""Every concert must be 'ewent.'" --Mstislav Rostropovich
What is it about "Event" concerts? Whether it's the Rolling Stones' latest reunion, Benny Goodman's Anniversary Carnegie Hall Concert, or Bernstein at the Wall doing Beethoven's 9th, for some reason the assembly of Big Name talents playing Important Works frequently seems to disappoint. (There are some exceptions: the Modern Jazz Quartet's farewell concert; Horowitz's return to Moscow in 1986.) Still, we keep hoping the next encounter will strike fire and make the history that's expected. And it seems to me that a lot of listeners who are more interested in basking in that history rather than just listening with their ears wide open and their expectations in neutral always hear the results as "Incredible," "Magnificent," "The Greatest Recording of Anything ever!!"
That aside, I was really looking forward to this CD. I like all three musicians, though I do think Argerich is overrated sometimes and people respond more to her persona than anything else. But still, I figured her firey temperment was ideal for this music. The thing with Shostakovich that most people don't realize is, the structure is of paramount importance. (Think of all the rambling, incoherent readings of the Fifth Symphony out there.) As another reviewer here perceptively notes, the three musicians fall apart at the beginning and never really recover. This is a work of large structures, really, and they don't play it that way. Instead we get a series of unconnected episodes. And--and this is the oddest aspect of the performance I can't explain--despite all the flailing and banging away, they never really build up to a big, hair-raising finale. It's loud, it's harsh, but it sounds like sound and fury signifying nothing. Perhaps the best performance of the Shostakovich trio I've ever heard is by the Kalichstein/Laredo/Robinson trio on Arabesque. This two-for-the-price-of-one set features searing performances of several other DSCH chamber works, major and minor, in excellent sound. And some of the other music in this set is not often heard and is positively bizarre (in a good way). This set certainly will not disappoint, and Amazon sells it, though for some reason they won't let me post a direct link here. Another fine performance of the DSCH Op. 67 trio is Kagan/Gutman/Richter, who, quite frankly, are worth hearing in practically anything anyway.
As for the Tchaikovsky, I really don't have many other examples to go on, but this one I just found boring and plodding. (Anyone with suggestions for good performances of the Tchaikovsky work feel free to email me...I'd appreciate it.)"
3 strong personalties, united here
P. Rah | Sion, Switzerland | 08/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording, taken from two live performances in Japan, is unusual, but breathtaking. And contrary to what one reviewer on the review page said, this is not the first time the 3 have played together. It was the year before this present recording was made, in '97 in Verbier, that they played for the first time.
The Shostakovich is a very graphic interpretation, vividly portraying the anger and the pain behind the music. The three performers are very strong personalities and naturally there will be doubt as to how successful their collaboration will be in chamber music. While still maintaining their individual temperaments, the performance as a whole is a keenly united one. The interplay, the communication between the three players is impressive. Some have commented at the lack of techinical accuracy. Maybe that is so, but I sometimes think that some of these 'inaccuracies' are deliberate, to strengthen the music's drama. The Tchaikovsky is also another great Russian piano trio. It was written after the death of a beloved colleague, Nikolai Rubinstein. Incidentally, both trios on this disc were written after both composers lost dear friends. For Shostakovich, it was written in memory of Ivan Sollertinsky. And this disc is dedicated to the memory of Argerich and kremer's manager. So it is quite a deadly affair, this disc!
The Tchaikovsky is a long work - 40 minutes at least. Here it is
nearly 48 minutes! But the playing here is so impassioned and keenly felt that the impression is that it isn't that long at all. A very lyrical, yet powerfully articulated performance like this is rare. All the players are on top form for the Tchaikovsky, and from Argerich there is the strongest support you could imagine for a piano trio. The encore is a very witty 'medley' of Tchaikovsky's works (ranging from the Pathetique symphony, violin concerto, quotes from Eugene Onegin, to the Rococo Variations). Very humorous.
The sound is very vivid, and the booklet contains informative notes by David Brown, and entertaining observations by Argerich's second daughter, Annie, who describes what happened before the performances took place."
Riveting Performance of Three Friends Playing a Live Concert
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 08/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These are profound, riveting performances of Shostakovich's and Tchiakovsky's piano trios. Admittedly, Argerich leads the trio with her fiery keyboard playing, but Kremer is no less memorable for his lyrical phrasing on the violin. Maisky is just as fine on the cello, though he is often overshadowed by his friends. Both pieces are dark, somber works which are well suited to Argerich's tempestuous personality. Although the sound quality isn't as fine as a contemporary studio recording, it does come quite close. I tip my hat in admiration to Deutsche Grammophon for producing a splendid recording which celebrates a long-lasting friendship amongst three of our most exciting classical musicians."
P. Rah | 06/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is a simply stunning performance, based on the talent of three unique musicians. Argerich is somehow the leading power of the trio, while the rest are no less worth praise for their great musicianship. Communication between the musicians adds to the superiority of this recording. Last, but not least: it is a live recording, and any sensitive person can feel that. It may not be the most immaculate perfomance ever recorded, but it has such an atmosphere that cannot be easily achieved in any studio."