Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from Lugano 2016

Martha Argerich

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Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from Lugano 2016 Review

by James Manheim

Sadly, the 2016 Martha Argerich Project concerts excerpted on this three-CD set are, barring further developments, the last ones. It is thus a pleasure to be able to report that the series has gone out on a high note. The format follows earlier releases in the series, with the great Argentine playing solo, joining duos and chamber ensembles, and assembling complementary performances by other performers. There's an unusually large concentration of Argerich here, and this is appropriate. There is one real standout that makes the entire set worth the purchase price: the extraordinary reading of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, Op. 80. So alert is Argerich to the harmonic pattern of this work, and to the ways in which it prefigures the finale of the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (and not just in the Choral Fantasy's second-movement theme), that the work almost seems a piano piece with orchestral-choral accompaniment. The work has never been a Beethoven favorite, but in her hands it has striking warmth and power, and it's safe to say that the roar of approval from the buttoned-down, Swiss crowd at the end has rarely if ever been equaled. There is brilliance from Argerich in Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, gloriously old-school Bach from Argerich and violinist Tedi Papavrami, fine work from violinist Renaud Capuçon in the Busoni Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35a (even if the Brahms Horn Trio is not so idiomatic), and lots more, all of it immediate and committed. The album should be kept on hand as a fine tribute to an artist who has been not only a star, but a great inspiration to other musicians.

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