From the ar­chives

An­drew Mcgre­gor rev­els in a new box of live record­ings by pi­anist Martha Arg­erich and friends

BBC Music Magazine - - Instrumental Reviews -

Martha Arg­erich has a com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with record­ing, but found a per­fect so­lu­tion to her is­sues with mi­cro­phones in her 15-year pro­ject at the Lugano Fes­ti­val, sur­round­ing her­self on stage with fam­ily, friends and pro­tégées, and al­low­ing her record la­bels to eaves­drop. The Lugano Record­ings (Warner 9029594897; 22 CDS) has an en­vi­able back cat­a­logue to plun­der, and ex­cludes any that don’t in­clude Arg­erich her­self. Mozart first, an Arg­erich favourite: the D mi­nor Con­certo K466, then Grieg’s two pi­ano ver­sion of the Sonata K545 with Piotr An­der­szewski – a trea­sur­able part­ner­ship, as is Mozart K381 with Maria João Pires. The Beethoven col­lab­o­ra­tions bring more fre­quent Lugano part­ners: Re­naud and Gau­tier Ca­puçon, and cel­list Mis­cha Maisky, whose some­times ex­treme Ro­man­ti­cism is in­tel­li­gently tem­pered by Arg­erich in Beethoven’s Triple Con­certo. Chopin’s E mi­nor Pi­ano Con­certo is breath­tak­ing, and the In­tro­duc­tion & Polon­aise bril­liante with Gau­tier Ca­puçon is stun­ning, as is their ac­count of Schu­mann’s Ada­gio & Al­le­gro. Arg­erich’s Schu­mann, never rou­tine, is in some ways the heart of the set, but don’t over­look two pi­ano ver­sions of Liszt’s Les Préludes with Daniel Rivera, or Rach­mani­nov’s Sym­phonic Dances with Nel­son Go­erner, so richly coloured and broadly ex­pres­sive you won’t miss the orches­tra. Not ev­ery­thing is per­fectly recorded: the Bartók Sonata for Two Pi­anos and Per­cus­sion with Stephen Ko­vace­vich has dis­tant sound, but their De­bussy En blanc et noir is a high­light, and the Car­ni­val of the An­i­mals from 2013 is ir­re­press­ibly witty.

There are gems from when Arg­erich and friends con­vened for the last time in 2016. Ravel’s Gas­pard de la Nuit for the first time in 40 years, as mer­cu­rial as ever; those 75- year-old fingers re­u­nited with Ko­vace­vich for De­bussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faun, se­duc­tively per­sua­sive; and best of all Beethoven’s Cho­ral Fan­tasy, new to Arg­erich’s discog­ra­phy and with an un­in­hib­ited im­pro­visatory solo. This is Arg­erich at her elemental best.

Side by side in Lugano: Martha Arg­erich and Stephen Ko­vace­vich

An­drew Mcgre­gor is the pre­sen­ter ofRa­dio 3’s Record Re­view, broad­cast each Satur­day morn­ing from 9am un­til 12.15pm

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