Notes and Editorial Reviews
What a pleasure to encounter another film, for there have been several, providing the opportunity to see the incomparable Martha Argerich at work, up close and personal. In this instance, the occasion was La Roque d’Anthéron Piano Festival at the Parc du Château de Florans. There, under the direction of René Martin and Frédéric LeClair, these outdoor performances were filmed in July 2005 featuring the Flanders SO under Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky with two talented brothers, violinist Renaud Capuçon and cellist Gautier Capuçon, along with Argerich as the soloists.
My great fondness for Prokofiev notwithstanding, I’d endorse any movement to lock the “Classical” Symphony in a
vault for a couple of decades to allow recovery from chronic over-exposure. But here, serving as curtain raiser to the evening’s main attractions, it seems the perfect thing. Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s interpretation is focused, considered, and points up many interesting details that combine to create a fresh impression. The orchestra takes a while to warm up, but it only reminds us that this is a live performance recording; some minor ensemble problems in the first movement’s exposition and a few pitch disagreements in the larghetto slow movement don’t spoil this energetic reading.
Argerich’s unique approach to the Prokoviev First Concerto is now familiar from the superb collaboration with Dutoit and the Montreal SO, recorded in 1997 (EMI 56654). But here we’re given the chance to see just how she does it all. And from the first three massive D?-Major triads that launch the soaring traversal of the concerto’s principle thematic material by soloist and upper strings, the electricity is palpable. I’m always astonished to observe just how quietly Argerich sits at the instrument. Whether launching sprays of pianissimo passagework or exploding thunderclaps of massive chords, nothing seems to cost her the slightest effort. No histrionics, no fuss, everything’s strictly business. And a glorious business it is! Argerich’s powers of concentration are awesome, her accuracy breathtaking, her sound palette a rainbow.
The two Prokofiev pieces were filmed in daylight. The collaboration with Renaud Capuçon in Schumann’s First Violin Sonata is filmed in the evening. Capuçon is, in every way, an engaging violinist—his tone is warm, his pitch dead on, his imagination vivid. Argerich, of course, is well known for her personal and penetrating Schumann-playing, not to mention her skill and subtlety as a chamber musician. Their reading of the Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck has a beautiful ebb and flow, each musician matching the other in phrase shaping and inflection. And following the dreamy allegretto, the furious Lebhaft seems to breathe fire.
In the next segment, Argerich and Renaud Capuçon are joined by his cellist brother Gautier along with Rabinovitch-Barakovsky and the orchestra in what is quite simply the best performance of the Beethoven “Triple Concerto” I have ever heard. The exchange between the three soloists is delicious and Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s accompaniment is pliant and ever supportive. The elegance and hauteur of the polonaise finale are simply irresistible.
I found these filmed performances an unalloyed pleasure from beginning to end and give them the highest recommendation.
FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
Recorded live at the Parc du Château de Florans during La Roque d'Anthéron Piano Festival, July 2005
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 87 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
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