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Notes and Editorial Reviews
EMI Classics is pleased to release the latest instalment of highlights from the Martha Argerich Project at the Lugano Festival. This is the ninth annual 3-CD set celebrating the musical fruits of a project in which young artists join seasoned performers, including Martha Argerich herself, to explore wide-ranging chamber music and orchestral repertoire, both well known and rarely heard. The CDs, recorded in the summer of 2011, are being released in anticipation of the Festival’s 2012 season in June.
As a chamber music event which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011, this series has become a laboratory that gives guest artists a chance to prove themselves not only in well-known masterpieces but also in rarely performed
As in previous years, the piano stands at the centre of the programming, This 3CD set welcomes back mainly familiar names from the previous Live from the Lugano Festival releases including pianists Lilya Zilberstein, Sergio Tiempo and Polina Leschenko as well as Virgin Classics’ inimitable violin- and cello-soloist brothers, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon and violinists Lucia Hall and Lida Chen. -Few artists have nurtured and promoted emerging young musicians with the level of personal commitment shown by Martha Argerich. In the process, she has created inspired and inspirational chamber music partnerships mixing established and up-and-coming artists. A legend in her own lifetime for her technical mastery and passionate artistry, Argerich possesses an infectious spirit that has fired her own performances and partnerships as well as those of her colleagues and protégés.
R E V I E W:
The tenth edition of Martha Argerich’s Lugano festival took place in 2011, and reviews of the 2009 and 2010 festival recordings can also be found. She and her friends and colleagues rehearsed and performed a remarkably wide variety of works both well-known and new discoveries over a 20-day period, with the emphasis on chamber music.
This is one of those box sets of works where comparison with other versions of the pieces recorded is something of an irrelevance. There is such a feeling of light and joy in the performances that each seems newly-minted, and if there is music here which you already know and love in alternative versions, hesitate not in rediscovering them played here in Lugano. The recorded sound is excellent throughout, audiences are well behaved - no doubt captivated by every note - and Martha Argerich’s own appearances are in the majority. Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 8 is played with refinement and elegant panache by Renaud Capuçon, with Argerich’s accompaniment equally expressive and with admirable touch and restraint. Mozart’s Sonata K497 for piano four-hands is a real gift, played with affectionate warmth and tremendous rhythmic lift by Martha Argerich and Cristina Marton. Argerich is absent for Haydn’s Piano Trio in C Hob. XV:27, but the crisp and lively playing from this trio is wholly in the spirit of the other performances, and with beautiful phrasing and marvellous dynamic observation this is a recording second to none - the syncopations in the Finale are great fun. CD 1 closes with an adaptation of Schumann’s wonderful Fantasiestücke Op. 73, played on cello instead of clarinet by Gautier Capuçon and accompanied by Argerich, who alas is a little too recessed in the balance in this case. This is a very fine performance, but the cello really is too far forward for comfort when in full cry.
CD 2, and if you don’t know it the opening of Franz Liszt’s Concerto pathétique for two pianos will blow you out of your chair. This is a feast of pianistic extravagance, and you can feel Martha Argerich and Lilya Zilberstein relishing every moment. Bewitchingly expressive playing takes over in the devotional central movement, and the doom-laden marcia funebre in the finale is perfectly weighed, though still with a smile. If you are yet to be converted to the cause of Liszt, this may be your Road to Damascus moment. Rachmaninov’s Trio élégiaque No. 2 is another superb work; dedicated to the memory of Tchaikovsky and full of passionate lament and played with full conviction in this recording, which is nicely balanced and with nice separation between the two string players. Shostakovich’s Cheryomushki is a madcap operetta, and this is completely madcap playing by our three pianists. Arranged highly effectively for three pianos by one of the players, Carlo Maria Griguoli, this is tremendous fun, full of tunes which will stick inside your head for ages, and will instantly cure you of any blues.
CD 3 opens with Ravel’s La Valse in a marvellous version for two pianos played by Martha Argerich and Sergio Tiempo. The opening is gorgeously amorphous and atmospheric, the build-up of madness inexorable and full of fantasy. Martha Argerich’s early renown came in part from her 1967 recording of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, now part of a ‘Complete Concertos’ collection from Deutsche Grammophon. Timing between these versions are as close as makes no difference, and if the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana isn’t quite as plush, present and detailed as Claudio Abbado’s Berlin Philharmonic it still has plenty of character. The first movement has even more jazzy swing to the rhythms and the bass drum in the last movement is great. This is very much Argerich’s performance, and her playing is remarkably crisp and punchy, the crucial bass notes resoundingly effective. The beautiful central movement is taken a little quicker from the start, but is full of poetic inflection. I prefer it a little straighter and more understated as it appears in the 1967 recording, but Argerich’s latest thoughts on the work are never less than fascinating and always movingly rhapsodic. The final Presto is more dramatic and less breezy than the older recording. This is a life-enhancing performance and a vibrant partner to any of the others Argerich has made.
The whole collection finishes with a work which will be new to most of us, The Piano Quintet Op. 34 by Juliusz Zar?bski. A student at the Vienna Conservatory and a friend of Liszt, his early death at the age of 31 meant his name has remained unrecognised. This is high Romantic music, but is certainly not over the top in terms of musical material, possessing great transparency of instrumentation and one of the main discoveries from this collection. There is plenty of thematic clarity through imitative writing, and not too many laboured transitional passages or tedious chromatic sequences in the passionate opening Allegro. The following Adagio is a remarkable movement, with a ‘rapt lyricism’ which only needs inclusion in a Big Movie to make it a global hit. The Scherzo has some of the nervy urgency of something by Shostakovich, and the Finale is full of marvels both taut and restrained, and tumultuously energetic and inventive.
Once again, this is a collection of recordings which everyone should have, whether you are a seasoned fan of Martha Argerich or a classical collecting newbie. There is something special about superbly performed concert performances on record, and this is as close as anyone is likely to get to that elusive live ‘vibe’ in recordings through your Hi-Fi. High-fives all round.
-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Moskva, Cheremushki, Op. 105: Suite by Dmitri Shostakovich
Carlo Maria Griguoli (Piano),
Giorgia Tomassi (Piano),
Alessandro Stella (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1958; USSR
La valse by Maurice Ravel
Martha Argerich (Piano),
Sergio Tiempo (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1920; France
Concerto for Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Martha Argerich (Piano)
Italian Switzerland Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1929-1931; France
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
Wonderful Music Making July 27, 2012
By John O. (Auburn, MI) See All My Reviews
"Martha and her friends have done it again. This is a marvelous set which will delight all who hear it."
Great Chamber Music July 11, 2012
By George Buck (Fresno, CA) See All My Reviews
"Rather than talk about the specific pieces of music and the musicians on this album, I'd like to point out that this whole series of Martha's Logano performances over the years is well worth collecting. (them all), which I have done over the years. The programs are all well planned and well recorded. She always has top flight musicians (including herself). Her selections of music are eclectic and very satisfying. When I'm in the mood for chamber music, I normally try to play as many albums as I can over a period of days and weeks. My recommendation is to not only purchase this Album (normally 3 cd's in each, reasonably priced),but as many as your wallet will permit. You will not be disappointed. I eagerly look forward to this years (2012) release ,probably the first of next year."