Martha Argerich: Music for Two Pianos

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COMPOSERS: Brahms,Lutoslawski,Prokofiev,Rachmaninov & Tchaikovsky
ALBUM TITLE: Brahms, Lutoslawski, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov & Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Music for Two Pianos by Brahms, Lutoslawski, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov & Tchaikovsky
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich, Mirabela Dina, Gabriela Montero, Lilya Zilberstein, Polina Leschenko, Yefim Bronfman & Giorgia Tomassi (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 207 6232


Having quit the lists as a solo pianist, Martha Argerich has invented an equally brilliant career for herself as a chamber player, often with the young protégés she performs with at the Lugano Festival. Two of those – Lilya Zilberstein and Gabriela Montero – play on this double disc, which is further evidence of her fertile musical influence. And if the sound is uneven, that’s far outweighed by the buzz we get from these scintillating live performances, all of which sound more like one player (with four hands) than two. Not all the works are masterpieces. Rachmaninov’s early Six morceaux, composed before he had found his voice, is middling and derivative, and only justified here by the quality of the pianism (Argerich and Zilberstein) on display. But it’s fascinating to hear what we normally know as Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F minor here transcribed as a Sonata for two pianos: if some parts lose in translation, others gain significantly in interest. Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony is a stronger case in point: its amalgam of hope, confidence, and comedy – written in the dark days of 1917 – is even more winning here. Meanwhile Lutoslawski’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini – arranged for café performance during the darker days of war-torn Warsaw – makes for brilliant entertainment. And as played by Argerich and Mirabela Dina, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite is pure joy. Michael Church