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Great Performances (on YouTube) - Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 - Martha Argerich & Riccardo Chailly

February 12, 2010 By Geoffrey Morrison


So I'm starting a new feature here on the website. YouTube is great for a lot of things, but I think one of its greatest uses is as a repository of amazing performances by the world's greatest musicians.

Now I'm not talking about ripping a concert DVD, but of meaningful, remarkable performances that are likely not found anywhere else. First up, the Rach 3 by Martha Argerich.

Martha Argerich is an Argentinean pianist. Something of a recluse, at least when it comes to press and publicity and such, she is regarded as one of the great living pianists.

Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 is one of the most challenging pieces of music ever written. A piano player friend of mine, upon asking him about the Rach 3, shrugged and opined "It's not that hard, it's just long." Well for us mere mortals, it's both. Clocking in around 40 minutes, the pianist is playing for nearly all of it.

Think of it this way, Sergei Rachmaninoff was said to be able to span a thirteenth, as in a "C" with the thumb and an "A" with the pinky. Most people with pretty big hands can do 10ths, if they're lucky. He wrote music that he could play, and as one of the greatest pianist of the 20th century, he could play.

Here, Argerich is simply astonishing. I'll let her fingers do the hyperbole. There are many stunning moments, but if you start at around 11:00, let it build, and then watch her hands.

Recorded in 1982, this is one of the great performances of this incredible piece of music, by a true master of the instrument. Enjoy.


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