- Concerto for piano & orchestra No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, CT. 47
- Piano Concerto No. 1, for piano & orchestra in E-flat major, S. 124 (LW H4)
Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt were both piano virtuosi of the highest order. So it's no surprise to find that their concertos were composed as vehicles for them to flaunt their digital wizardry -- though the two masters strutted their stuff in very different ways. Chopin adored the bel canto operas of Bellini and Donizetti, and both his concertos are like extended operatic scenes in which the piano acts the role of the prima donna, and the pianist is required to play the music with a limpid, singing tone and supple phrasing. Liszt's performances were much more of a spectacle; supposedly, his bravura displays had similar effect on women as Elvis Presley's gyrating hips would about a century later. In his Concerto No. 1, the pianist must thunder up and down the keyboard as well as dazzle in dizzying flurries of notes. In both concertos, the orchestra is there primarily to provide a solid, ornamental frame for the soloist. Martha Argerich's playing probably would have knocked the socks off of Chopin, Liszt, or any other 19th-century virtuoso, for that matter. She can thunder and dazzle with the best of 'em -- and she does so thrillingly in this performance of the Liszt Concerto. She also plays Chopin with melting beauty, which is perhaps one reason why this recording helped to gain Argerich a cultlike following.