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.
These three sonatas - composed originally for the viola da gamba and harpsichord - are very musically-appealing compositions. And unlike previous Baroque cahmber-music tradition, the harpsichord is not relegated to mere continuo but projected into the spotlight as co-soloist - perhaps to showcase some of Bach's keyboard virtuosity. There are several fine period recordings of these works on viola da gamba and harpsichord (Savall, Peri, Crum, Wispelwey) or modern cello with harpsichord (Ma, Tortelier). But if your taste favors all modern instuments (cello, piano), then this circa-80's CD by the legendary Martha Argerich and Misha Maisky is the ticket.
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.
Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas span the period from 1797-1812, and the G major work ending the series (which he evidently revised prior to its publication in 1816) came as long after the Kreutzer as the difference in opus numbers suggests – the nine intervening years saw the appearance of Symphonies Nos. 4-8 and much else. Stylistically, this last sonata looks forward to his third period and its lyricism differs markedly from the fire of its predecessor, while the other eight are youthfully confident; it is perhaps significant that only two of the whole series are in a minor key.
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.