Mozart – Martha Argerich plays Mozart Live from Tokyo

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Opus Arte
WORKS: Concerto for Three Pianos in F, K242; Piano Concerto No. 20, K466; Symphony No. 32 in G, K318 etc; plus Beethoven: Triple Concerto – Finale
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich, Paul Gulda, Rico Gulda (piano), Renaud Capuçon (violin), Lyda Chen (viola), Gautier Capuçon (cello); New Japan PO/Christian Arming
CATALOGUE NO: OA 1004 D (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 anamorphic)

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Martha Argerich designed this Mozart concert, given in Tokyo on the composer’s birthday in 2005, as a tribute to her teacher Friedrich Gulda, who was himself a Mozart interpreter of eccentric genius.

In the Triple Concerto K242 Argerich takes a back seat, opting for the undemanding third piano part while Gulda’s sons Paul and Rico play the more prominent roles. The performance goes reasonably well until the finale, which is a good deal too fast for what is essentially an elegant minuet.

But there is worse to come, in the shape of a cadenza that begins with an extended quotation of the famous slow-movement theme from Mozart’s Concerto K467, and thereafter descends to the level of sentimental bar-room music. All this may perhaps have held personal significance for Gulda père, but its use here is in poor taste.

Argerich admirers will nevertheless want this DVD for her fiery account of the great D minor Concerto K466, in which every phrase is imbued with her personality.

The orchestral contribution isn’t quite on the same level (the hushed, syncopated opening bars, for instance, are rather lacking in mystery), but it is accomplished enough.

Renaud Capuçon’s sweet-toned performances of two of Mozart’s individual movements for violin and orchestra are a welcome bonus, as is the single-movement Symphony No. 32.

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As an encore, the polonaise-like finale of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, with Argerich and Capuçon joined by the latter’s cellist brother Gautier, may be out of place, but the performance is so spirited that no one is likely to complain. Misha Donat