Schumann, Mendelssohn, Taneyev, Debussy, Schnittke & GuldaMartha Argerich, Nicholas Angelich,

COMPOSERS: Debussy,Mendelssohn,Nicholas Angelich,Schnittke & GuldaMartha Argerich,Schumann,Taneyev
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Martha Argerich and friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2006
WORKS: Works by Schumann, Mendelssohn, Taneyev, Debussy, Schnittke & GuldaMartha Argerich, Nicholas Angelich
PERFORMER: Karin Lechner, Polina Leschenko, Sergio Tiempo, Lilya Zilberstein (piano), Renaud Capuçon, Lida Chen, Lucy Hall, Alissa Margulis (violin), Jorge Bosso, Gautier Capuçon (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 389 2412
Some of the most bizarre programming in Martha Argerich’s continuing series of recordings from the Lugano Festival is featured in this three disc set. Admittedly you get two established chamber masterpieces by Schumann and Mendelssohn’s exuberant D major Cello Sonata as well as some unexpected discoveries such as Taneyev’s huge Piano Quintet, Ravel’s inspirational two piano arrangements of Debussy’s Nocturnes and the hard-hitting First Violin Sonata of Alfred Schnittke. Yet despite Sergei Nakariakov’s wonderful fluidity of line, a transcription for flugelhorn of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke for clarinet and piano has to be something of an acquired taste, though I can tolerate this much more than Friedrich Gulda’s Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra, its crude juxtapositions of big-band Rock, mock Mozart and Bach culminating in a movement that would not sound out of place at the Munich beer festival. Judging by the applause that greets Gautier Capuçon’s energetic performance of the solo part, the audience must have loved the work. Yet at nearly 35 minutes duration it more than overstays its welcome.

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There are far greater musical rewards in a wonderfully intense performance from the Capuçon brothers and Nicholas Angelich of Schumann’s D minor Trio. Argerich’s mercurial personality and dazzling fingerwork bring an extra degree of frisson to the same composer’s E flat Piano Quartet even though at times the music is driven almost too hard, the helter-skelter accelerando at the end of the work resulting in an unfortunate wrong note from the violin. The recorded sound is variable with full-blown textures of the Taneyev sounding a little congested in comparison with more crystalline approach adopted by Mikhail Pletnev on a recent DG release. But if you can cope with the Gulda, there is some wonderful music-making here and welcome evidence that the musicians are really enjoying the experience of playing chamber music together. Erik Levi