Argerich and Friends

0 of 5 stars

Concerto for piano, violin and cello in C, Op.56
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54

Martha Argerich (piano)

Renaud Capuçon (violin)

Mischa Maisky (cello)

Orchestra della Svizzera italiana
Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky

Recorded live at the Lugano Festival – in May 2002 (Schumann) and May 2003

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: June 2004
CD No: EMI 5577732
Duration: 65 minutes

This is a fresh and vital account of Beethoven’s maligned Triple Concerto, a vigorous and expressive orchestral introduction paving an impressive path to the soloists’ entry, a lively and integrated team. Mischa Maisky is an eloquent advocate of the cello part (by design, the cellist has a leading role), his trills expressive, his plaintive tone a pleasure throughout; Renaud Capuçon is sweet-toned and agile; Martha Argerich is dazzling and accommodating. Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky leads an alert, sympathetic and detailed accompaniment, although in the finale the recorded balance favours the soloists rather too much.

In the outer movements – the central Largo is raptly effective here – the soloists’ variegation of colour and dynamics sustain what can seem note-spinning on Beethoven’s part, though the final Polonaise could be a touch more spacious. Argerich is one of the few pianists who takes seriously Beethoven’s marking on the final page to hold-down the sustaining pedal; a shame that an over-keen audience intrudes into the effect.

As for the Schumann, well, Argerich is typically rapier and propulsive (it’s not long since she recorded it with Harnoncourt for Teldec); if cobwebs have accreted themselves to this poetic and capricious work, Argerich doesn’t so much blow them away as sandblast them! As a demonstration of Argerich’s vivid artistry there is much to admire, an appealing ‘ink still wet’ quality. Yet, while there is nothing roughshod about her manner, her refusal to linger or enter a reverie is rather limiting, and some of the fierier moments are rather aggressive, accents punched out. Such matter-of-fact display is, however, countered by more delicate utterances.

A refreshing account, then, with no lack of inhibition, faithfully accompanied with some telling blends of orchestral sonority. However, Leif Ove Andsnes has recently set down a masterly account of the Schumann for EMI, and that same label issued a remarkably subtle version with Barenboim and Celibidache that is at-one with Schumann’s acute gradations. Occasional low-pitched electronic buzzes intercede the second movement and finale, 5’40”-5’45” in the latter for example, though there’s nothing to deter from catching a pair of red-hot performances.

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