Martha Argerich and Friends – Live from Lugano Festival 2006 = SCHUMANN: Piano Quartet in E flat, Fantasiestücke, Piano Trio No. 1; MENDELSSOHN: Cello Sonata No. 2; TANEYEV: Piano Quintet; DEBUSSY: Nocturnes; SCHNITTKE: V. Sonata; GULDA: Cello Con. – EMI

by | Jun 20, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Martha Argerich and Friends – Chamber Music  Live from the Lugano Festival 2006 = SCHUMANN: Piano Quartet in E flat Op. 47, Fantasiestücke Op. 73, Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor; MENDELSSOHN: Cello Sonata No. 2 in D; TANEYEV: Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 30; DEBUSSY-RAVEL: 2 Nocturnes; ALFRED SCHNITTKE: Violin Sonata No. 1; FRIEDRICH GULDA: Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra – EMI Classics 3 89241 2 (3 CDs), 64:24, 79:11, 60:12 *****:

(Performers: Argerich, Angelich, Bosso, G. & R. Capucon, Chen, Hall, Lechner, Leschenko, Margulis, Montero, Nakariakov, Romanoff-Schwarzberg, Sergei Nakariakov, Schwarzberg, Tiempo, Zilberstein, Members of the Italian-Swiss Orchestra cond. by Alexander Rabinovich-Barakovsky)

This must be the best festival of chamber music in the world.  First of all the location can’t be beat, the programming is a perfect mix of some of the fixtures in chamber music combined with adventurous departures from the norm, and the playing of all the performers seems to be on a masterly level. Also demonstrates its possible to have a 3-CD chamber music program without a single string quartet – and that’s fine with me. The recording quality is also right up there, by the way.

The Schumann Fantasy Pieces doesn’t seem like such an adventurous choice on this program with three works by that composer – but if you were expecting to hear Argerich at the piano accompanying a clarinetist, or perhaps a cellist, you are in for a surprise. The soloist is Sergei Nakariakov on Flugelhorn, and it’s great!  The Schumann Piano Trio is not his best-known piano trio, but is a wonderful work of gorgeous melodies. Taneyev – sometimes referred to as the Russian Brahms – creates a broad and almost orchestral sweep in his grand Piano Quintet, also stuffed with lovely melodies. Rather odd that Ravel had to transcribe Debussy’s Nuages and Fetes from the orchestral original to two pianos, since so many of Debussy’s piano pieces became orchestral works.  One would think the result would lose most of the atmospheric impressionist tone-painting effects that makes the composer’s Nocturnes such a delight, but such is most definitely not the case. The two pianos, between them, are able to communicate  the experience  – at least to my ears – even more effectively than the two-piano versions of Beethoven symphonies.  Perhaps it’s due either to Ravel’s transcribing expertise or the two performers skills.

The Big Finish on this superb collection is the biggest adventure of them all: Gulda – who straddled the jazz and classical worlds most of his career – created a five-movement cello concerto that really kicks up its heels with gusto. There are strains of Baroque, Classical, Romantic, jazz, Spanish, and cabaret-style whooping-it-up that reminded me of a more modern version of Ibert or Francaix. Electric guitars are even a part of the ensemble. This is certainly a unique cello concerto!

 – John Sunier 

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