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The Complete Duo Recordings / Argerich, Kremer, Maisky


Release Date: 03/20/2012 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001649002  
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenJohann Sebastian BachRobert SchumannBéla Bartók,   ... 
Performer:  Gidon KremerMartha ArgerichMischa Maisky
Number of Discs: 13 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Martha Argerich's...associations with violinist Gidon Kremer and cellist Mischa Maisky are surely among the pianist’s most substantial and musically rewarding collaborations.

The present collection includes all of the Argerich/Kremer and Argerich/Maisky duo recordings for Deutsche Grammophon as originally released and in chronological order. -- Jed Distler, Liner Notes

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Bartok, Janacek Violin Sonatas

Like so many of his contemporaries Bartok underwent a period of artistic self-examination immediately after the First World War. The Violin Sonata No. 1 is the first result of that reappraisal and it has
Read more all the hallmarks of a style in transition—in other words, it is a jolly tough nut to crack, and it remains so even in a performance as consistently colorful and high-powered as Kremer and Argerich's.

The first movement, probably the most elusive of the three, emerges as a hyper-romantic drama, not inappropriately given the extensive influence of Szymanowski on Bartik at the time. The playing has tremendous eloquence and range of expression and there is not a dead note anywhere in the movement. The adagio is no less enthralling and the rhythmic elasticity of the finale is just what the music needs. Kremer's earlier Hungaroton/Conifer recording, dating from 1975, was a superlative account, and it remains a good recommendation if you are looking for both sonatas Bartok sonatas; but the finely-recorded new DG is even more dazzling.

In Janacek's Sonata it may be that such consistent strength of projection is too much of a good thing. Of course it has to be fiery and passionate, but there needs also to be a sense of when that passion is being lived out in the present and when just sadly recollected. Here Sitkovetsky and Gililov on Virgin Classics are the most perceptive duo, though as ES warned, the couplings are less special—the more adventurous collector may prefer the smoother Suk/Panenka version on Supraphon/Koch International, coupled with late romantic sonatas by Foerster and Novak.

-- Gramophone [1/1991]

Beethoven: Cello Sonatas, Variations

"The two sets of variations flank the two sonatas, with Ein Madchen oder Weibchen coming first and the Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen set at the end. All four works are early, the sonatas and first variation set were written in 1796, the other piece in 1801. In these circumstances, we rightly expect to hear Beethoven in youthful vein. Personally, I find the courtly and conventional gestures of the genial Madchen Variations a bit too predictable despite a degree of Beethovenian humour that is evident in some bouncy rhythms and dynamics (the slow F minor music towards the end goes deeper, too). But the music is attractive in its own right and is played with ample wit, agility and impeccable ensemble. The same may be said of the other variation set (a more imaginative piece as perhaps befitting its more tender and lilting theme), which is presented with considerable grace.

Both the Madchen Variations and the First Cello Sonata are in F major, but so vivid is the playing that I did not feel any sameness. It is alert and crisp, while still offering a proper degree of cello warmth. As always, Argerich's attack is most sharply focused but I don't find her tone hard, as has sometimes happened before, especially in more recent music. If she is placed backwardly relative to the cello, that at least allows her to play forcefully (e.g. in the finale of Sonata No. 1) without swamping the string instrument; on the debit side, however, her tone lacks the 'body' of Maisky's cello and he could do with richer support here and there, as in the slow opening music of No. 2. Otherwise the recording is satisfying, with a good dynamic range.

The two artists manage the varying moods and tempo changes skilfully in these unusually shaped sonatas, in which slow and fast speeds both find their place in big first movements (complete with exposition repeats) which are then followed by rondo finales."

-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone [2/1992]

Prokofiev Violin Sonatas

I seem to remember this DG recording of two of Prokofiev’s finest chamber works rather dividing the critics on its first release. Listening to it in its latest mid-price incarnation, I can see why, though with such a volatile partnership as Kremer and Argerich the ‘faults’ are hardly a surprise. In fact, the somewhat brittle, hard-edged tone that Kremer produces and which seemed to elicit the most criticism, strikes me as virtually ideal for much of this music. Given Argerich’s similarly steely-fingered accompaniments, this is not a comfortable ride – nor should it be.

The Sonata No.1 is, to my ears at least, the finer of the two works, a dark, sombre and powerfully brooding piece that fully captures the atmosphere in which it was conceived, that of Stalin’s terror and the ever-present fear of the ‘knock-on-the-door’. Argerich sets the tone for this mood superbly in those bleak opening bars, the deep octaves building in intensity before Kremer’s icy-toned violin joins in. Forget the warm, burnished tone of other players, Kremer sees this for what it is – full of foreboding, yet almost hypnotic in its doleful lyricism. The second movement allegro brusco sees the players going full pelt, freewheeling virtuosity laid firmly at the door of the music. The ghostly andante seems full of painful memories, and Kremer’s beautifully-gauged harmonic wisps (2:27) seem to say it all. The finale rounds things off in true style, these two artists obviously enjoying the fireworks but really listening to each other.

The Sonata No.2 is an altogether warmer, more obviously approachable work, adapted from an earlier flute piece at the suggestion of David Oistrakh, who famously recorded both sonatas with Richter in the early 1970s. Though it suits the Kremer/Argerich approach rather less well, this is still a performance brimful of character, fully bringing out the nuances and subtleties in Prokofiev’s ironic juxtapositions. This is most obvious in the lovely third movement (another andante) where their playing even suggests shades of Ravel. It’s true a mellower tone from Kremer and a shade less aggressive accompaniment may be what some listeners would want here, but there is such musicality and conviction that I doubt you’ll feel short-changed.

The Five Melodies, originally for wordless voice and piano, are like a compendium of the composer’s stylistic thumbprints, with echoes of Romeo and Juliet and the Classical Symphony abounding throughout in an enjoyable addendum to the main fare. It proves to be the choice of filler for many of Kremer and Argerich’s competitors, including very well received discs from Vadim Repin/Boris Berezovsky (Erato), Joshua Bell/Olli Mustonen (Decca) and the Shaham siblings on Vanguard.

In fact, these works have been extremely lucky on disc, but I can only say that I found these readings extremely rewarding, with two obviously temperamental artists showing a fierce, uncompromising brilliance in both works. Whether such diamond-edged playing is for you will remain a personal choice, but with close, intimate sound to suit the playing, and an interesting liner-note from Julian Haylock, I think this disc puts itself firmly back in the front line.

-- Tony Haywood, MusicWeb International

Beethoven Violin Sonatas

Martha Argerich, inspired and unpredictable, has at last been persuaded to record Beethoven—not just violin sonatas with Kremer, but cello sonatas with Misha Maisky and piano concertos with Sinopoli and the Philharmonia. For years she has been afraid that her Beethoven readings might sound self-conscious when pinned down on record, but if this first issue of sonatas is a fair sample, she has no need to worry. It was an inspired idea to match her against a violinist so unpredictable as she is herself, for though there is nothing 'safe' about these interpretations, and not everyone will respond to their sparkling, volatile qualities, the liveness of the experience is undeniable.

Plainly on this showing the pianist is the leader, which is fair enough in sonatas which still keep the old description ''for piano and violin''. Argerich's clarity of articulation is a constant delight often at speeds so fast—as in the first movement of Sonata No. 1—that Kremer finds it hard to articulate his answering passage-work with anything like the same evenness and clarity. Even so, he has rarely sounded so happy on record. Where he has often sounded a degree self-conscious, here his individuality conveys the magic of the moment just as much as Argerich's does. Very often that consists of pointing a phrase or underlining a sforzando with a 'naughty' twist to the rhythm, I have never known performances of these exuberant examples of early Beethoven so regularly bringing a smile to my lips, not least in the finales, whether in the off-beat accents of the jig finale of No. 1, the gentle persuasiveness of the Allegro piacevole which ends No. 2 or the bounce of the 2/4 Rondo of No. 3. It is bad luck on the writer of a perceptive sleeve-note, that he talks of ''the four-square main theme'' of that movement: with Kremer and Argerich it is anything but that! Equally remarkable is the hushed concentration of the A minor slow movement of No. 2, curiously marked Andante piu tosto Allegretto. Kremer and Argerich choose a flowing speed so as not to overweight the minor-key tragedy, and then point the contrasting F major middle section delectably with question-and-answer phrases tossed to and fro as though with a wink each time.

I greatly look forward to the rest of the series. On CD the new issue is greatly to be preferred in sound, when the 1962 Philips is relatively dull and dry, and Oistrakh's imagination is rarely matched by Oborin. The new CD issue gives an even keener sense of presence than the LP with piano and violin nicely balanced against a believable recital-hall acoustic.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [7/1985]

Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich Cello Sonatas


Following her magnificent live accounts of Beethoven Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Abbado, here DG gives us an opportunity to hear Argerich the accompanist. She has enjoyed a chamber partnership with Mischa Maisky for a while now, and their musical closeness shows.


The violin/piano arrangement of numbers from Stravinsky’s neo-classical ballet Pulcinella is well-known, the Stravinsky/Piatigorsky arrangement perhaps less so. Maisky and Argerich have you ask why. Beginning in the most exuberant fashion imaginable, this is a performance that pits energy - a hectic Tarantella - against tenderness (Serenata) and good old fun (the finale). The Minuetto that leads into the finale is notable for Argerich’s beautiful shaping of the theme at the very beginning – this is no mere marking of time until Maisky enters. The rhythmic play of the finale is enjoyed to the full by both players, the cheers from the audience at the end completely justified. Interestingly, there is one second less applause after Pulcinella than there was for when the artists entered – I am sure this is not significant!.


The meat of the recital is, of course the sonatas by Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Prokofiev comes first; maybe it was originally planned as second, because the booklet notes treat the two sonatas in reverse order. And a real ‘first’ it is, too. This was Argerich’s first complete public performance of the work, and there is a real concentration from both pianist and cellist that brings the piece to life, from Maisky’s thoughtfully soliloquizing opening onwards. There is real tension brought about around 2’35 onwards, at which point Argerich seems intent on breaking fully free to bask in Prokofiev’s openly lyric stance. In fact the many moods of this movement are conveyed in bright colours, none less so than the manic passage around 9’50, with Maisky pouring superhuman energy into his arpeggiations, against Argerich’s bell-like tolling chords.


How great a contrast, then, is the witty slapstick of the central Moderato, and how carefully timed is the sudden lyricism at 2’03 - just the right amount. The finale includes a moment of real pianissimo magic; around three minutes in.


Shostakovich’s Sonata of 1934 is a work that explores the composer’s interior side. Appropriately, then, this account begins almost tentatively. Both players are completely immersed in this intense music. Because of their combined concentration, they can take risks with tempo that, without exception, are successful, all of which puts the ultra-manic Allegro that follows into high relief. Argerich’s repeated notes simply have to be heard! This is live music making caught on the wing. The numbness of the Largo though is surely the most memorable aspect of this performance. Try the ultra-delicate, completely stripped bare passage around 5’10. The teasing finale takes us into another world, contrasts underlined here, wit to the fore.


Certainly a whole Universe away from Peter Wispelwey and Dejan Lazic’s recent Wigmore Monday lunchtime recital, which pitted the mighty Prokofiev and Shostakovich against each other, rather less successfully


Argerich once more teases the listener in the encore, a tiny Waltz from Prokofiev’s Stone Flower. The listener is certainly kept on his/her toes in this delightful morceau.


A magnificent triumph for all concerned including the recording team of Producer Sid McLaughlin and Engineer Stephan Flock, who have managed to convey all the atmosphere of a live event with the utmost clarity. My disc of the month.

-- Colin Clarke, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in D major, Op. 12 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
2. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 12 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
3. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 in E flat major, Op. 12 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1797-1798; Vienna, Austria 
4. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 4 in A minor, Op. 23 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
5. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 5 in F major, Op. 24 "Spring" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
6. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 6 in A major, Op. 30 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
7. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 7 in C minor, Op. 30 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
8. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 8 in G major, Op. 30 no 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
9. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 10 in G major, Op. 96 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria 
10. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 9 in A major, Op. 47 "Kreutzer" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802-1803; Vienna, Austria 
11. Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord no 1 in G major, BWV 1027 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Mischa Maisky (Cello), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
12. Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord no 2 in D major, BWV 1028 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Mischa Maisky (Cello), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
13. Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord no 3 in G minor, BWV 1029 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Mischa Maisky (Cello), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
14. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in A minor, Op. 105 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Germany 
15. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 in D minor, Op. 121 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Germany 
16. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1, Sz 75 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 06/1988 
Venue:  Herkulessaal, Residenz, Munich 
Length: 32 Minutes 28 Secs. 
17. Sonata for Violin and Piano by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1921; Brno, Czech Republic 
Date of Recording: 06/1988 
Venue:  Herkulessaal, Residenz, Munich 
Length: 16 Minutes 38 Secs. 
18. Thčme et Variations for Violin and Piano by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1985 
Venue:  Herkulessaal, Residenz, Munich 
Length: 7 Minutes 28 Secs. 
19. Variations (12) for Cello and Piano in F major on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen", Op. 66 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mischa Maisky (Cello), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Studio 4, Maison de la Radio, Brussels 
Length: 9 Minutes 19 Secs. 
20. Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in F major, Op. 5 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mischa Maisky (Cello), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Studio 4, Maison de la Radio, Brussels 
Length: 23 Minutes 28 Secs. 
21. Sonata for Cello and Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 5 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mischa Maisky (Cello), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Studio 4, Maison de la Radio, Brussels 
Length: 22 Minutes 42 Secs. 
22. Variations (7) for Cello and Piano on Mozart's "Bei Männern", WoO 46 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Mischa Maisky (Cello), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/1990 
Venue:  Studio 4, Maison de la Radio, Brussels 
Length: 9 Minutes 48 Secs. 
23. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 80 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Gidon Kremer (Violin), Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1946; USSR 
Venue:  Maison de la Radio BRI, Brussels 
Length: 28 Minutes 22 Secs. 
24. Melodies (5) for Violin and Piano, Op. 35bis by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Paris, France 
Venue:  Maison de la Radio BRI, Brussels 
Length: 13 Minutes 57 Secs. 
25. Sonatinas (2) for Piano, Op. 54: no 2 in G major by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Gidon Kremer (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1932; Paris, France 
Venue:  Maison de la Radio BRI, Brussels 
Length: 23 Minutes 12 Secs. 
26. Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, B 160/Op. 65 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Mischa Maisky (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 11/2000 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan 
Length: 30 Minutes 8 Secs. 
27. Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Mischa Maisky (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2000 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan 
Length: 28 Minutes 2 Secs. 
28. Sonata for Cello and Piano by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Mischa Maisky (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; France 
Date of Recording: 11/2000 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan 
Length: 12 Minutes 18 Secs. 
29. Introduction and Polonaise for Cello and Piano in C major, Op. 3 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Martha Argerich (Piano), Mischa Maisky (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1830; Poland 
Date of Recording: 11/2000 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan 
Length: 8 Minutes 58 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in D, Op.12 No.1: 1. Allegro con brio
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in D, Op.12 No.1: 2. Tema con variazioni (Andante con moto)
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in D, Op.12 No.1: 3. Rondo (Allegro)
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 in A, Op.12 No.2: 1. Allegro vivace
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 in A, Op.12 No.2: 2. Andante piů tosto allegretto
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 in A, Op.12 No.2: 3. Allegro piacevole
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.3 in E flat, Op.12 No.3: 1. Allegro con spirito
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.3 in E flat, Op.12 No.3: 2. Adagio con molt' espressione
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.3 in E flat, Op.12 No.3: 3. Rondo (Allegro molto)
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.1 In G, BWV 1027: 1. Adagio
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.1 In G, BWV 1027: 2. Allegro ma non tanto
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.1 In G, BWV 1027: 3. Andante
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.1 In G, BWV 1027: 4. Allegro moderato
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.2 In D, BWV 1028: 1. Adagio
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.2 In D, BWV 1028: 2. Allegro
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.2 In D, BWV 1028: 3. Andante
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.2 In D, BWV 1028: 4. Allegro
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.3 In G Minor, BWV 1029: 1. Vivace
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.3 In G Minor, BWV 1029: 2. Adagio
Sonata For Viola Da Gamba And Harpsichord No.3 In G Minor, BWV 1029: 3. Allegro

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