Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from Lugano 2014 = MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor, K. 466; BEETHOVEN: Variations in E-flat Major on “Bei Maennern”; MILHAUD: La Creation du Monde; MENDELSSOHN (arr. Busoni): Symphony No. 1 in c minor, Op. 11; BORODIN: Piano Quintet in c minor; BRIDGE: Cello Sonata in d minor; POULENC: Piano Sonata; Cello Sonata; SCRIABIN: Fantasy in a minor; WEINBERG: Violin Sonata No. 5, Op. 53 – Martha Argerich, piano/Gidon Kremer, violin/ Mischa Maisky, cello/ assisting artists/ Orch. della Svizzera Italiana/ Jacek Kaspszyk – Warner Classics 0825646134601 (3 CDs), 59:07, 75:31, 60:26 7/10/15) ****:
June 2014 in Lugano initiated the thirteenth Progretto Martha Argerich, the Argentinian musician’s answer to Marlboro and any number of equivalent music festivals that assemble international artists to perform familiar and unusual concert and chamber works. The Argerich calling-card, the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 (30 June 2014) convinces us that the Argerich magic, her suave fluency and often demonized temperament, have not diminished since her stormy entrance upon the international music scene in 1960. Argerich appears thrice more: in Beethoven’s Variations on the E-flat aria from Mozart’s Die Zauberfloete(22 June 2014) , with Mischa Maisky; in Poulenc’s Piano Sonata for Four Hands with Dagmar Clotto (18 June 2014); and in the Violin Sonata No. 5 of Mieczyslaw Weinberg with Gidon Kremer (12 June 2014). The Argerich associations with cellist Maisky and violinist Kremer already precede these performances for their critical acclaim, and the addition of Swiss pianist Dagmar Clotto to the roster (18 June 2014) in the youthful (1918) Poulenc Piano Sonata makes an impressive, pungent debut. The 1953 Fifth Sonata of Weinberg (1919-1996) with Latvian virtuoso Gidon Kremer will strike auditors with its sense of studied melancholy and eerily nervous lyricism, a singular addition to the ever-growing legacy of this important Shostakovich contemporary.
We have a number of rare gems besides, in works by the Russians Borodin and Scriabin: for the latter, his 1892 a minor Fantasy for 2 Pianos as performed by Alexander Mogilevsky and Daniel Rivera ((10 June 2014) offers liquid and declamatory colors that testify to its orchestral conception, but the composer’s insecurity had him arrange the score for keyboards. Alexander Mogilevsky leads a string group (10 June 2015) in the Borodin Piano Quintet (1862), a warm and fluent composition well saturated by Schumann elements. Intermittently, a sense of the Russian soul emerges by way of the later D Major String Quartet, mostly in the low string work of Nora Romanoff’s throaty viola and Jing Zhao’s cello. Ferruccio Busoni arranged the youthful First Symphony, Op. 11 of Felix Mendelssohn for four players at two pianos – Akane Sakai, Lilya Zilberstein, Anton Gerzenberg, Daniel Gerzenberg – and their concerted effort of 18 June 2014 makes us appreciate how much of the Romantic sturm und drang the fifteen-year-old composer had already absorbed into his musical facility.
French cello virtuoso Gautier Capucon (b. 1981) contributes his lyric gifts to entirely disparate sonatas, that in d minor (c. 1915) by Frank Bridge and the 1948 Cello Sonata by Francis Poulenc. With keyboard assistance from Gabriela Montero, Capucon makes a ravishing case for the Bridge piece, whose opening movement communicates a haunted grace actually enhanced by the close microphone that captures Capucon’s baited breath. The Poulenc illustrates the mercurial temperament of the composer, slickly glib or sentimentally generous, the gestures large as befitted its intended dedicatee, Pierre Fournier. With addition of a piano quintet of Darius Milhaud’s 1923 jazz ballet La Creation du monde, with Jose Serebrier soloist Michael Guttman on the second violin, our three hours at the Lugano Festival have been well – even gloriously – spent, given that these precious discs endure as happy reminders that we can repeat the enchantments.