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Much the same can be said of her ardent performance of the Fantasiestucke for cello and piano, a perennial favorite among conservatory students in pursuit of the next advance degree. Natalia Gutman equals Ms Argerich for affective intensity in a rather freely drawn reading that wants for intimacy in favor of bold declamation. Violist Nobuko Imai offers an exceptionally probative view of the tightly constructed, dark-hued Marchenbilder, where Ms Argerich's understatement -- for once -- is most welcome. Of special interest here, and played most persuasively, is the rarely played Andante and Variations, for two pianos, two cellos and horn.

Ms Argerich, then, once again proves to be an admirable pianist, even though she does have an unfortunate tendency at times to go on musical autopilot, consuming details with the fiery sweep of her sound and her broad, even declamative phrasing. But that's a minor consideration in light of the overall passion and richesse which she invests in virtually every musical moment. If there is one drawback to this recording, it is the overly reverberant acoustics that are serverely compromised by poorly placed mikes. More often than not, while the strings and winds benefit, the piano sounds as if it were bellowing forth from far away and under water. The middle and lower registers, regretably, emerge as little more than a blur. That is certainly no fault of Ms Argerich, but that of her inattentive and less than competent engineers. Perhaps she might be persuaded to record these works again, in the controlled climate of a state-of-the-art studio. One can at least wish ...

Copyright © 22 September 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA


Martha Argerich

73082 Stereo 2002 EMI Classics

Martha Argerich, piano; Alexandre Rabinovitch, piano; Dora Schwarzberg, violin; Lucy Hall, violin; Nobuko Imai, viola; Mischa Maisky, cello; Natalia Gutman, cello; Marie-Luise Nunecker, horn

Schumann: Piano Quintet Op 44; Andante and Variations Op 46; Fantasiestucke Op 73; Marchenbilder Op 113



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