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Mischa Maisky and Martha Argerich in Concert
Sergey Prokofiev, Recorded Sound, Dmitry Shostakovich
Mischa Maisky and Martha Argerich in Concert
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
The duo of cellist Mischa Maisky and pianist Martha Argerich is known for the virtuoso flair they bring to their performances. This recording from a 2003 Brussels concert is no exception. The way they tear into the wild se...  more »

      
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The duo of cellist Mischa Maisky and pianist Martha Argerich is known for the virtuoso flair they bring to their performances. This recording from a 2003 Brussels concert is no exception. The way they tear into the wild second movement Allegro of the Shostakovich, with both artists rattling off its grotesqueries at warp speed, will have you at the edge of your chair. They're as admirable in the brooding Largo of that work and in conveying the rhapsodic Romanticism of the Prokofiev Sonata. At times they can seem self-indulgent, lingering over phrases in both of those Sonatas and teasing the lines in Stravinsky's Suite italienne, which the composer arranged for cello and piano from his Pulcinella ballet. But the flip side of that is the spontaneity that they achieve here, and even when pianissimos are taken down to the barely audible or diminuendos are exaggerated, the effects are too thrilling to complain about. Here's another must-have for their many fans. --Dan Davis

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CD Reviews

Virtuoso Music, Virtuoso Performances
M. C. Passarella | Lawrenceville, GA | 07/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are, as reviewers always say, other ways to play this music. But few other teams have captured the fire and ice of this very disparate music of three Russian masters. With Pulcinella, Stravinsky announced to the world his own brand of neoclassicism (which he had been working toward, certainly, through pieces such as the Octet). The "Suite Italien" drawn from Pulcinella and arranged for cello and piano by Stravinsky and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky has more edginess than the orchestral original, I find, and so seems even more Stravinskian.

With the Prokofiev, we hear one of the best examples of that master's compromise between his earlier spiky modernism and later more populist style. Here, without doubt, is one of the great pieces of 20th-century chamber music, with its warm and generous opening andante (punctuated by moments of dark drama), its jocose march-like second movement, and its riveting and headlong finale. Well, it's headlong in this performance anyway. Maybe Maisky and Argerich don't precisely adhere to Prokofiev's Allego ma non troppo marking, but the results are scintillating, virtuoso in the extreme.

For me, Shostakovich's Cello Sonata is on a lower artistic plane, though it certainly has its enticements: the grotesquery of the scherzo second movement is Shostakovich at his most interesting and haunting. I'm in a minority, I'm sure, but you can keep many of his long-winded and supposedly dramatic slow movements, including the Largo of this sonata. We're back on familiar ground, though, in the finale, and Maisky and Argerich's is as exciting a performance of this strange, beguiling music--like a glance ahead to the finale of the Ninth Symphony--as you're likely to hear.

DG's recording has all the benefits, none of the drawbacks of live recording. There is warm cello sound and full, rich piano tone without clangor. Plus the applause is separately banded, so you can listen or not as you wish; during the music (except for the encore, a waltz by Prokofiev) the audience is dead silent. Recommended without a single reservation."
Bravura Showmanship in an Exhilarating Concert
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky - what a partnership! This is one of those live concert recordings that overcomes all technical blemishes and simply glows with superb playing. Recorded in a concert in 2003 in Belgium, these two superior musicians have a chemistry easily observed in concert and equally palpable on recordings. This is a must have CD for almost all music lovers.

This recital comprises three works. The first piece in a transcription for cello and piano written by Stravinsky himself of portions of his ballet 'Pulchinella'. Argerich and Maisky dive right into the Italianate parody with zest and extraordinary facility of playing. Both the Prokofiev and Shostakovich Sonatas find each musician exploring the rich profundities of their individual instruments as well as the dashing eccentricities and joys of the piano and cello in tandem. The result is not only a dazzling musical conversation but also an expansion of the validity of each composer's work.

The playing is of the highest quality and the recorded sound is excellent: the ambiance of the hall adds to the musical mixing. For shear joy of fine music perfectly played with soul and heart, this recital is no one to be passed over lightly! Highly recommended. Grady Harp, July 05"