Live From Lugano 2012: Martha Argerich and friends

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Dvorak,Mahler,Prokofiev,Schumann,Smetana
ALBUM TITLE: Live From Lugano 2012: Martha Argerich and friends
WORKS: Various works
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano) and friends


Here, as with previous Lugano Festival releases, is a well-balanced mix of familiar and unfamiliar repertoire. Several of the ensembles could have benefited from more sustained periods of rehearsal, yet they still communicate vibrancy
and the sheer enjoyment possible when fine musicians get together to play chamber music in a relatively relaxed environment.

Martha Argerich is the dominating presence, her performances among the most memorable in this set. With cellist Gautier Capuçon she delivers an affectionate as well as impulsive account of Schumann’s Fünf Stücke in Volkston, while Capuçon’s brother Renaud is put through his paces in a sparklingly brilliant and energy driven performance of Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 2. The Brahms Haydn Variations with Nicholas Angelich as second pianist is also pretty dynamic, though there are occasional moments where the ensemble isn’t always absolutely pristine. There are problems, too, in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25: once again Argerich’s playing has wonderful presence and demonstrates marvellous tonal variety, but the contribution of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana seems rather heavy-handed.

As for the other performances, I enjoyed the intriguing and enterprising transcription for three pianos of Debussy’s La mer, though such an unwieldy combination fails to portray the playful shafts of light in ‘Jeux de vagues’. For all the eloquence of the string playing I also found the performance of Dvoπák’s E flat Piano Quartet rather bombastic and self-indulgent, especially in the slow movement. On the other hand, Lilya Zilberstein and colleagues present a really persuasive and affectionate interpretation of Medtner’s unfairly neglected Piano Quintet, and I was particularly pleased to discover Martucci’s Tema con variazioni for two pianos, given here with stunning virtuosity by Nelson Goerner and Rusudan Alavidze.


Erik Levi