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Martha Argerich and Friends Live from the Lugano Festival 2005: Chamber Music
Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Carlos Guastavino
Martha Argerich and Friends Live from the Lugano Festival 2005: Chamber Music
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #3

Since Martha Argerich has abandoned solo recitals and studio recordings, her new CDs feature concert collaborations with like-minded friends and protégés. Whatever the negatives of such live recordings may be, the upside t...  more »

      
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Since Martha Argerich has abandoned solo recitals and studio recordings, her new CDs feature concert collaborations with like-minded friends and protégés. Whatever the negatives of such live recordings may be, the upside trumps them handily since, if we're lucky, some of the sparks generated by musicians in a concert venue will be captured. With this set drawn from the 2005 Lugano Festival we're decidedly lucky, for musical electricity courses through all three discs. There are nine works by eight composers ranging from Mendelssohn to Guastavino, all played with spontaneity and full-blooded Romanticism. Argerich is onstage for five of them, including such rarities as Brahms' two-piano version of his Variations on a theme of Haydn, where she's partnered by Polina Leschenko, and, with Piotr Anderszewski, Grieg's full-dress arrangement for two pianos of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 16, an oddity whose curiosity value outweighs the sacrilege. There's also the sensuous Argentine and Andalucian encores and the teenage Beethoven's Piano Quartet set alongside masterpieces such as the Brahms Piano Quintet, Op. 34 and Mendelssohn's Piano Trio No.2, both played with a captivating blend of sensitivity and fervor. For many the highlight will be two big Rachmaninoff works on Disc Two ? Mischa Maisky's big-toned cello in the master's G minor Cello Sonata, whose episodic qualities the soloist turns into virtues, and the Suite No. 2 for two pianos, passionately played by Argerich and Gabriela Montero. Get this, put it in your player, and be transported to Festival-level performances by established masters and a new generation of stars. --Dan Davis

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CD Reviews

MARTHA AND MANY
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 07/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Aside from Martha Argerich herself, there are 16 performers represented on this 3-disc set. The other established 'big name' is the cellist Mischa Maisky, the brothers Capucon were already familiar to me from a performance of Mendelssohn's first D minor trio at the corresponding Argerich Project at Lugano in 2002, and the rest are up-and-coming young players some of whom I see have already made their first recordings in their own right.

There is a feeling of exuberance to the whole occasion. Nine works are presented, with Argerich herself taking part in only five of them. Eight are from the festival in 2005, but the performance of Rachmaninov's suite for two pianos by Argerich and Gabriela Montero is from the 2003 event. The choice of music is enterprising without being forbidding in any way. The 20th century is represented by Rachmaninov and also in 2-piano suites by Manuel Infante and the Argentinian Carlos Guastavino who died as recently as 2000. Rachmaninov is of course no modernist, and neither are the other two. Brahms is here in the shape of the Haydn variations in their gorgeous 2-piano version, and also - most intriguingly - the piano quintet in which the pianist is not Argerich but Lilya Zilberstein, who had taken the second piano part beside Argerich when they performed the work in its 2-piano version on the disc from the 2002 festival that I have referred to above. There is Beethoven too, and Mozart, but not as we customarily hear them. The Beethoven is a piano quartet written at the age of 15, performed by Argerich with the Capucons and with Lida Chen on the viola. The Mozart is a fascinating item indeed. It's the familiar C major sonata K525 that he wrote for beginners, but with a part for a second piano added by Grieg. This outrage and sacrilege perpetrated on his revered Mozart incensed Shaw to the point of anathematising the later composer as 'the infinitesimal Grieg', but I think Shaw was a bit too quick with his brickbats. Grieg would no more have dreamed of 'improving' Mozart than Shaw himself would have. As I hear it, Grieg is attempting to interest his leaden contemporary musical public in Mozart by, as it were, placing him in an unfamiliar light. The effect is delightful in its novelty, Argerich herself plays the unpretending sonata part (not altered by Grieg in any way), and the performance has the sense of adventure and discovery that have characterised the work of this great virtuosa all her life, and that I hope will go on doing so for many years to come.

These days Argerich does no more solo work, so she had better give us a lot more of this kind of thing. Of all Michelangeli's eminent pupils, I guess that the name to rank most fully with hers is that of Maurizio Pollini. The two have taken very different paths. Of Michelangeli himself it could perhaps be said that we have to take the smooth with the smooth, and much the same can be said about Pollini. Argerich's own playing is nothing like this, but is characterised by fervour, spontaneity and impetuosity, and this is the spirit that comes across from the festival that bears her name, whether she is actually playing or not. She is not, of course, any 2-dimensional artist, and the Argentine Romances by Guastavino that conclude this set are marked by delicacy, refinement and restraint. Not just that - she takes the first part in the Haydn variations, and the theme is given in a quieter and more introverted way than I have heard at any other time. However the overwhelming impression from this selection of the music at her festival is of heart, soul, fire and air. One thing that interested me in particular was how Lilya Zilberstein might go about the piano quintet in her own right without Argerich to lead the event. Zilberstein flies at the semiquaver outburst near the start in a way most reminiscent of Argerich, but interestingly she does not apply the strong ritardando that they did together on the last phrase of all, but delivers it in a furious cascade of notes, much as Serkin used to do it. Between times, I'd even say that the tempo of the slow movement is actually better judged, sc a little slower, and the end of the scherzo is the most vivid and exciting I can remember since a performance on a Russian label 40 and more years ago by Richter and the Borodins.

The liner note from Jeremy Siepmann is fairly average, but to say the least I have read much worse. The recorded quality is quite good, but not as good as we have got used to in recent years on many other sets. It varies a bit, and has a tendency to over-resonance, something I noticed particularly in the first item, the Mendelssohn trio, put over with passion and fervour by Nicholas Angelich and the Capucons. My ears could be deceiving me, but I think it's at its best when Argerich herself is performing, although of course the clarity of those mighty fingers might have a lot to do with it as well. There is not a single performance here that is less than thoroughly involving, and not one where I have any serious reservation about the approach or interpretation. This is live music-making, and that has an atmosphere that the very finest studio performances can hardly ever have. It all has presence, it has heart and soul, it has about it the sense of the music-making of the great player who presides over it. I hope there will be many more issues like this, I hope to hear more of the younger artists now at the outset of their careers, and I hope to hear many such others as their successors."
Stars and some lesser lights (for now) shining
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"'Martha Argerich and Friends Live from the Lugano Festival 2005: Chamber Music' is bound to collect awards when the Grammies come out. This 3 CD set of a live concert is a filled with joy, impassioned playing, variation in repertoire and exuberant music making as any set on the market.

Martha Argerich holds the throne here but as is her manner she shares the stage with such gifted young artists as Polina Leschenko, Piotr Anderszewski, Gabriela Montero, Mark Dobrinsky, Mischa Maisky, Lilya Zilberstein, Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Lida Chen and Nicholas Angelich. The repertoire is wonderfully varied and includes fine works by Rachmaninov, Beethoven, Brahms, Carlos Guastavino, Manuel Infante, Mendelssohn and Mozart. The artists obviously share not only some behind the scenes training (!) but they all seem to enjoy the act of music making with like minds/friends.

One of the many marks on music that Martha Argerich will leave is her boundless enthusiasm for concerts such as this. With her appearances on the solo stage and in concerti diminishing due to health, it is particularly fortunate for us that she continues to engage in the magic of live recordings, especially when they glow with the light that this one does. This set is a tremendous bargain. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, December 06

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Argerich in most congenial company
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 10/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"EMI has made a small business out of live recordings by Martha Argerich, and one of the most congenial aspects is the box sets from the Lugano Festival where Argerich is the star draw. She is at her most relaxed in this setting, as one can hear from the Rachmaninov Suite #2, which is vigorous and declamatory but nowhere close to her brutal studio recording. The Amazon reviewer has listed what one can expect from this 2005 installment, sold at bargain price but full of treasures. For me the revelation was Mendelssohn's Piano Trio #2, which bids fair to be considered an overlooked masterpiece. One should also note the extremely attractive Three Argentine Romances by Carlos Gustavino, spectauclarly played by Argerich with vibrant rhtyhms and exotic atmosphere.

My only disappointment is that Argerich doesn't appear in this work or in the set's other masterpiece, the Brahms F minor Piano Quintet. However, the other pianists are wonderful in their own right--Nicholas Angelich in the Mendelsson and Lilya Zilberstein in the Brahms. One is grateful for them, given that Argerich--rahter neurotically, I think--has a quirk of restricting herself very often to two-piano music. The Rachmaninov is welcome, but for those of us who aren't fans of four-hand music, the arrangements of the Mozart K. 545 sonata and Brahms Haydn Variations feel like too much of a good thing. Even so, this is a highly recommended bargain for chamber music lovers."