ALBUM TITLE: Martha Argerich and Friends: Live from Lugano 2013
WORKS: Chamber and orchestral works by Beethoven, Ravel, Respighi, Liszt and Shostakovich
PERFORMER: Argerich, Montero, Zilberstein, Piemontesi, J Margulis, Marton, Tomasi, Griguoli, Stella (pianos); Maisky, G Capuçon, Debrus (cellos); R Capuçon, Baranov, A Margulis, Guttman (violins); Chen (viola); Fagone (double bass); Rutz (flute); Giuffredi (clarinet); Di Trapani (percussion); Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana/Hubert Soudant
CATALOGUE NO: 2564631220
Few, if any, fixtures in the classical recording calendar are more reliably rewarding, or more out-and-out enjoyable, than the annual selection from the Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano. The festival has class written all over it and exudes more joy – and humour – than any comparable event known to me.
Argerich herself leads off here, in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, displaying suppleness, rhythmic power, structural majesty and intimacy of inflection. This performance has Classical poise and unforced vitality, enhanced by an opera buffa humour all the more amusing for its impeccable elegance.
These virtues continue to reign, where appropriate, in the G minor Cello Sonata that follows. Colleagues for decades, Argerich and Mischa Maisky read each other like a much-loved book. Their harmony, in every sense, results in conversation of extraordinary intimacy and exhilarating spontaneity. This richly justifies the famous description of chamber music as ‘the music of friends’.
Humour and joie de vivre recede somewhat on the second CD of this three-disc set, but the intermittently attractive Respighi Violin Sonata is very seductively done. Meanwhile, the prevailing darkness of the Shostakovich D minor Cello Sonata is leavened with a grim wit not easily experienced as humour.
After outstanding performances of the Ravel Violin Sonata and of the Debussy Petite Suite on the third CD come two laugh-aloud demonstrations of the sheer, contagious fun that so-called classical music can provide, and the humour rests as much with the performers as with the music. Argerich and Lilya Zilberstein’s inspired caricature of incompetent pianists (in the Saint-Saëns) is hilarious – indeed the performance overall is unsurpassed in my experience.