The Beethoven Triple Concerto is a strange work, with the most important–-or at least prominent–-solos given to the cello; it is the instrument which introduces each movement. The remarkable Martha Argerich wisely allows Mischa Maisky to shine in his solos and leading position, but her contribution is anything but back seat. Her customary virtuosity is everywhere in evidence, and, in a way, she turns the piano into the spinal column of the work, with the violin and cello playing around her. Every time Maisky is about to lapse into a mannerism which might detract–-too much sliding, a dynamic slightly exaggerated–-Argerich brings him back, and both of them play with handsome tone. Capucon's violin is recorded a bit stridently (this was taped live in Lugano), but his playing is equally stunning. Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky leads the orchestra matter-of-factly until the final movement, when he catches the proper fire. In the Schumann A minor concerto Argerich is wonderful the solo passages and a fine partner in orchestrated ones and she really makes much of both the lyrical runs and the dance-like passages in the last movement. Recommended.
Martha Argerich does not give solo piano recitals anymore. She does something better: she plays duo piano and chamber music with her friends and students. She's been doing it for a couple of decades, and willful as she is, she probably won't change. Besides, when it comes to duo piano and chamber music recitals, Argerich with her friends and students can't be beat. Take, for example, this three-disc set of performances taken from the 2005 Lugano Festival.
Wow! This is music making on a cosmic scale. You may hear some jaded critic offer up the following generic comment about this release: "These three players, gathered together for only the second time, naturally can't equal the subtle give and take of more established chamber ensembles." Bull. All three artists rank among the most inspirational and experienced chamber players of our time, and here they set the notes on fire in performances of shattering intensity, improvisational spontaneity, and (in the Tchaikovsky) Herculean grandeur. Argerich's performance of the concerto-like piano part of the Tchaikovsky Trio is especially impressive; she seems to know instinctively when to dominate the proceedings and when to let her partners take over; and the final "Theme and Variations"–a huge movement half an hour in length–seldom has sounded so cohesive and meaningful. As to the Shostakovich, well, what can I say? This is one of the most profoundly moving experiences in music, and how well this trio knows it! The three players find the perfect tempo for the third movement Passacaglia, then build the tragic finale as inexorably as fate itself.
The first new release for ten years from Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado is their first ever album of concertos by Mozart. The legendary pianist and conductor add the sublime music of Mozart to their unrivaled, multi award-winning DG discography of concertos by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev, Beethoven and Liszt. Both concertos were recorded with Claudio Abbado s Orchestra Mozart, at concert performances at the 2013 Lucerne Festival that had critics searching for new superlatives. The album contrasts two very different works. Written in D minor, the key of the Queen Of the Night and the opening of Mozart s Requiem, the darkly dramatic No.20, K.466 has a stormy, operatic temperament that looks forward eighteen months to the premiere of Don Giovanni. With its majestic and radiant opening and a march famously reminiscent of the Marseillaise, No.25 in C major, K.503 is the culmination of the twelve transcendent concertos Mozart wrote in Vienna between 1784 and 1786. This release is Martha Argerich s first recording of solo concertos by Mozart on Deutsche Grammophon.
Argerich's 1994 DG reading of the Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings is already a benchmark version among modern recordings, complementing the composer's own technically fallible yet still indispensable 1958 account. But now there is a more natural flow in the slow movement, some previously slightly forced rubati are smoother, and although the textures are a fraction more richly pedalled, as often needs to be the case for projection to a big audience rather than the microphone, there is no more than an infinitesimal loss of clarity. So if anything Argerich's playing has the tiniest of edges even over her former self.
Martha Argerich and Friends Live from the Lugano Festival 2009 features a lot of friends but not a lot of Martha Argerich. Although the friends are very good (though not very well known), they are nowhere nearly as good as Argerich, but how many performers could reasonably be expected to be as good as the insanely talented Argentinean pianist? This three-CD set contains 12 pieces, and Argerich plays on just five of them. Inevitably, these are the strongest performances, leading off with a stirring Fantasiestücke for piano trio by Schumann, with Argerich and Renaud and Gautier Capuçon.
Martha Argerich's annual appearances at the Lugano Festival are highly sought after by her fans. Featuring the Argentinean pianist plus any number of her friends and protégés in a huge range of repertoire, the performances are as enjoyable as they are unusual and as thrilling as they are insightful. EMI began releasing three-disc sets containing a selection of the Lugano Festival's finest performances in 2002. In this set from the 2007 festival, Argerich is joined by such old friends as cellist Mischa Maisky and violinist Renaud Capuçon and by such recent protégés as pianists Nicholas Angelich and Gabriela Montero in works that range from Beethoven's Piano Trio No. 4 through Glinka's Grand Sextet to Lutoslawski's Variations on a Theme of Paganini.
Martha Argerich's involvement with chamber music has dominated the later part of her career, so it's easy to think of her name with the words "and friends" tacked on, and to visualize the large and diverse retinue of famous musicians who have recorded with her. This triple-disc box set from EMI Classics presents live recordings from the 2010 Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano, several of them collaborations with Argerich, notably in works by Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, and Béla Bartók, as well as a performance of Frédéric Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, where she is the featured soloist with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana.
As with previous issues in this outstanding series from Martha Argerich's Lugano Festival, the performers included here range from acknowledged masters such as cellist Mischa Maisky and pianist Stephen Kovacevich to near unknowns such as bassoonist Vincent Godel and clarinetist Corrado Giuffredi. Likewise, the repertoire ranges from the fairly well-known Schumann D minor Violin Sonata and Janácek Concertino to the virtually unknown Arensky Piano Quintet and Pletnev Fantasia elvetica. But no matter the performers or the repertoire, the results are superlative.
All too often, chamber music collaborations between established, accomplished soloists do not yield favorable results. Merely putting together virtuosic musicians does not mean they will play well together. Such is not the case with this recording of Martha Argerich's 2006 festival in Lugano. This album represents an amazing synthesis of well-known artists, musicians just coming into their own fame, as well as compositions ranging from standard repertoire to rarely heard works. Argerich's decision to include violinist Renaud Capuçon and brother Gautier Capuçon was wise indeed, as their energetic and fiendishly virtuosic playing is nearly enough to carry the CD on its own.