Maisky & Argerich Live in Japan

Mischa Maisky / Martha Argerich

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Maisky & Argerich Live in Japan Review

by James Leonard

What a recital this must have been! Individually, both Maisky and Argerich are among the best living players of their instruments: Maisky is a big-toned, full-blooded cellist and Argerich is a recklessly impulsive pianist blessed with a flawless technique. Together, Maisky and Argerich challenge each other to even higher heights, with Maisky singing like an operatic baritone and Argerich taking ever dangerous risks. And in this concert, Maisky and Argerich are at the top of their form, delivering performances that are, with one exception, among the most compelling ever recorded. Their Chopin sonata is far more passionate than any ever recorded: Maisky's playing makes the venerable Rostropovich performance seem restrained and Argerich's playing makes the piano part sound like the dazzling music it is, rather than a demure accompaniment to the cellist. Their Franck sonata has more ardent sensuality than the Act I Love duet from La bohème, with Maisky making a most convincing case for the work as a cello sonata. Their encore, Chopin's youthful Polonaise brilliante, succeeds in making the piece sound like more than a virtuoso trifle. Only Maisky's overly Romantic interpretation of Debussy's cello sonata is less convincing and, even there, the brilliance of Argerich's performance cannot be denied. This is as exciting a cello/piano recital as has ever been recorded.

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