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Beethoven • Grieg • Mozart: Divertimento; Holberg Suite, etc

Martha Argerich (piano); Mito Chamber Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa (Decca)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Beethoven • Grieg • Mozart
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19*; Mozart: Divertimento in D major, K136; Grieg: Holberg Suite, Op. 40
Martha Argerich (piano)*; Mito Chamber Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa
Decca 485 0592   56:29 mins

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This is a strange disc, giving the impression that it has been issued for the benefit of one performance, live, and filled by two studio performances from a couple of years earlier. The live performance, from last year, is of Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, recorded for the umpteenth time by the supreme Martha Argerich. She favours this concerto because she feels that it is relatively neglected. It is, slightly, though for the good reason that the other four are greater – the Second is actually the first, and comparatively unadventurous, though Argerich makes this, like almost everything she touches, fresh, sparkling, unpredictable. It must have been tricky for the Mito Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the elderly Seiji Ozawa, to keep up with her, though she has recorded with them before. But with the many other recordings of the Second she has made, all of them more interestingly coupled, this seems superfluous.

The fillers, recorded in the studio two years earlier, are the first movement of a Mozart Divertimento – why not all of it? – and Grieg’s Holberg Suite in an undistinguished, joyless account. It would have been a good idea, surely, to wait for Argerich, a frequent visitor, to record one of the other Beethoven concertos she likes to play.

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Michael Tanner