Piano Concerto No.25 in C, K503
Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K466
Martha Argerich (piano)
“Recorded live at Lucerne Festival in March 2013 KKL Luzern”
CD No: DG 479 1033 Duration: 62 minutes Reviewed: February 2014
Martha Argerich & Claudio Abbado – Mozart Piano Concertos K466 & K503 [Orchestra Mozart; Deutsche Grammophon]
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Listening to this release shortly after the death of Claudio Abbado (at the age 80 on 20 January) is to be reminded of his searching refinement as a conductor. Partnering Martha Argerich once again, together they give exhilarating, productive and sophisticated accounts of two of Mozart’s greatest piano concertos.
Strangely the majestic K503 comes first, rather than the earlier K466. Abbado leads off with a regal and journeying introduction. Argerich’s reply is impulsive but also very responsive to Orchestra Mozart (a mix of talented youngsters and world-renowned musicians), delighting in the brilliance of the writing and also relishing the sublime melodies. Interesting, given he made a simply wonderful recording of K503 – and with Abbado conducting, this time the Vienna Philharmonic (also DG) – Argerich chooses a cadenza for the first movement by Friedrich Gulda, a grand affair. The slow movement is lovingly shaped and the finale’s friskiness and profundities are respectively scintillating and eloquent.
To the very different Sturm und Drang world of the D minor Piano Concerto, Argerich, Abbado and the eponymous Orchestra bring a surreptitious scurrying to the opening movement, fortissimo outbursts all the more powerful for the restraint elsewhere, so too Argerich’s opening out the dynamics in the development section. She plays Beethoven’s cadenzas in the outer movements, and does so with a cutting-loose zing. For all the music’s dark passion there is also much heartfelt expression on offer. Such contrasts also abound in the ‘Romanza’ slow movement, gently songful for the most part yet with a central storm, which Argerich and the woodwinds whip up. The finale is electrifying, faster than most, prestidigitation and attack to the fore yet without losing focus on the music.
While querying the recording date – the Lucerne Festival is a feature of mid-August to mid-September, but that’s what the booklet informs – these are imposing, beguiling and charismatic accounts, with a few subterranean noises off and applause retained, that have been vividly recorded and can be highly recommended.