Prokofiev
Cinderella, Op.87 – Suite from the Ballet transcribed Mikhail Pletnev for two pianos
Ravel
Ma Mère l’Oye
Martha Argerich & Mikhail Pletnev (pianos)

Recorded August 2003, Théâtre de Vevey, Switzerland
CD No: DG 474 8682 (CD/SACD)
Duration: 50 minutes
Reviewed: September 2004
From the opening bars of Prokofiev’s ballet the listener is compelled. The orchestra is not missed. Maybe this is an unlikely combination of pianists – the mystic Pletnev and the flamboyant Argerich – but they make a dynamic, imaginative and considerate team, their respective qualities interacting in the most positive way. Indeed, Pletnev made this transcription with Argerich in mind. It is dedicated to her.
The pianists conjure magical sonorities in the Prokofiev, ones vividly suggesting varied emotions and situations, the fantasy of the music its most indispensable ingredient. One senses them working as a team, looking at each other, responding accordingly, knowing when to solo and when to accompany and when to clamour something thrilling. The so-called ‘Finale’, actually the ‘Grand Waltz’, when the midnight chimes dramatically intercedes, is superbly done.
Mother Goose, played as Ravel originally conceived it, that is four hands at one piano, seals the relationship between Argerich and Pletnev. They play exquisitely, with simplicity, and tightly mesh in a way that matches Ravel’s watchmaker-precision; his evocation of childhood is moving rendered. As the Suite’s middle movement is a scintillating account of ‘Laideronnette’: legerdemain at its most dazzling.
The recording is bright and lucid, and well-balanced: it needs to be with two very different but coequal luminaries at the helm.

 

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