Live from the Lugano Festival 2005: chamber music by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Infante, Brahms & Guastavino

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Brahms & Guastavino,Infante,Live from the Lugano Festival 2005: chamber music by Mendelssohn,Mozart,Rachmaninov
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Martha Argerich & Friends
WORKS: C minor Piano Trio
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich, Piotr Anderszewski, Nicholas Angelich, Gabriela Montero, Lilya Zilberstein (piano), Renaud Capuçon (violin), Gautier Capuçon, Mischa Maisky (cello) etc
CATALOGUE NO: EMI 358 4722
I’ve never been entirely won over by the arguments put forward for the ‘special atmosphere’ generated by live as opposed to studio performances, but faced by the superlative musicianship encountered throughout this set I may yet be converted. At its core is a stunning Argerich-Montero reading of Rachmaninov’s glorious Second Two-Piano Suite that triumphantly supersedes Argerich’s two previous recorded outings with Freire (Philips) and Rabinovitch (Warner). Theirs is a flair-driven, dashingly virtuosic version to place beside the deeply affecting Ashkenazy/Previn classic for Decca. No less gripping and captivating is an account of the Cello Sonata from Maisky and Tiempo which burns with a heart-warming incandescence to surpass even Lynn Harrell and Ashkenazy on blazing form (Decca).

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The set opens with Mendelssohn’s C minor Piano Trio from Argerich and the Capuçon brothers (Renaud and Gautier), who rather than dwell on the music’s unashamedly Beethovenian sturm und drang rejoice in its proto-Romantic leanings, tantalisingly synthesising Classical restraint with espressivo opulence. Violist Lida Chen joins them for an engaging account of Beethoven’s rarely-heard C major Piano Quartet. Keen listeners will notice that the first movement provided some transitional material for the Op. 2 No. 3 Piano Sonata in the same key, while the slow movement furnished the equivalent of Op. 2 No. 1 (cast, as here, in F major).

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Disc three focuses on Brahms and a Zilberstein-led F minor Piano Quintet (with Schwarzberg, Hall, Romanoff-Schwarzberg and Drobinsky) whose physical propulsiveness and vibrato intensity recalls the electrifying studio account from the young Christoph Eschenbach and the Amadeus Quartet in meltdown (DG). Argerich teams up with Leschenko for a deftly characterised St Antoni Variations (the Poco Presto variation will have you feverishly searching for the repeat button) and Anderszewski for Grieg’s left-of-centre, two-piano ‘realisation’ of Mozart’s K545 solo Sonata. Sweetmeats by Infante (Lechner/Tiempo) and Guastavino (Argerich/Vallina) round out a scintillating collection.