Martha Argerich: Works by Bach, Mozart, Grieg etc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Bartok,Grieg,Lutos√awski & Shostakovich,Mozart
LABELS: Medici Arts
WORKS: Works by Bach, Mozart, Grieg, Bartók, Lutos√awski & Shostakovich
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich, Stephen Kovacevich, Gabriela Montero (piano), Renaud Capuçon, Joshua Bell, Henning Kraggerud (violin), Yuri Bashmet (viola), Mischa Maisky (cello) (Verbier, 2008)
CATALOGUE NO: 3078928 (NTSC system; PCM stereo; 16:9 picture format)

There are some predictably fine performances among this collection recorded during the 2007 and 2008 Verbier Festivals. The Bach C minor Partita is one of Martha Argerich’s party-pieces, and she gives a dazzling account of it, making light of the music’s technical demands.
Also  a familiar item from her repertoire is Bartók’s Violin Sonata No. 1 – a piece she has already recorded several times with Gidon Kremer. It’s one of Bartók’s largest and most radical chamber works, and Argerich is well matched here by Renaud Capuçon. Other highlights include Lutos√awski’s two-piano Variations on a Theme of Paganini, whose populist virtuoso style suits Argerich and Gabriela Montero down to the ground; and an intense account of Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet, with string quartet led by Joshua Bell.
An entire page of the booklet is given over to listing an army of technicians involved in the production of the DVD – space that might have been used to provide some information on the music (there is none). Nor are the technical aspects anything to write home about. The editors have been rather trigger-happy with the cutting, which makes it difficult to concentrate on the music, and there are too many extreme close-ups for comfort.
The split-screen device in the Lutos√awski isn’t exactly elegant, either, and the applause has been abruptly faded after each item. All the same, Argerich’s matriarchal presence casts a benign glow over the proceedings, and her keyboard wizardry remains as abundant and remarkable as ever. Misha Donat