RACHMANINOFF:  Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30. (with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orch/Riccardo Chailly, cond.) Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos, Op. 17 (with pianist Nelson Friere)
Martha Argerich, pianist

PHILIPS 464 732 (M) (ADD) TT:  61:33

This is one of the most exciting Rachmaninoff Thirds as Martha Argerich, in the heat of live performance from December 1982—with superb accompaniment from the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly's direction—plays with demonic intensity.  Bryce Morrison's notes give his detailed comments on her individualistic performance ("the tigress momentarily shows her claws"...."plays as if possessed and, like a river in full spate, she sweeps all before her." She plays the "easier"  version of the first movement cadenza (the same one the composer used in his own 1939-40 Victor recording).  This is, indeed, one of the truly memorable performances of Rachmaninoff's masterpiece, with fine sound from the German radio broadcast.  This had existed on pirate tapes until Philips finally issued it on CD coupled with her live recording from 1980 of the Tchaikovsky First, with the Bavarian Orchestra under Kiril Kondrashin (446 673) still listed in Schwann/Opus.

The new issue is not as generously coupled containing only Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 2 with Nelson Freire recorded in the early '80s, issued on CD (411 034), long out of the catalog—and one of the shortest CDs ever with a total playing time of but 37:23.  It also contained Ravel's La Valse and Lutoslawski's brilliant Variations on a Theme by Paganini, both given stunning performances.  Had Philips chosen to do so, they could have included both on the new "Great Recordings" CD.  Why they didn't is a mystery.  No producers or engineers are identified.  The 96kHz 24-bit remastering is very fine.

R.E.B. (May 2001)