Martha Argerich & Friends: Live At Lugano 2008

Album cover art for upc 5099926705125
Label: EMI
Catalog: 5099926705125
Format: CD

Martha Argerich, Renaud Capuçon, Mischa Maisky, Lilya Zilberstein, Stephen Kovacevich and Dora Schwarzberg

Mozart: Andante and Variations for Piano, four hands K501
Schumann: Violin Sonata No. 2 in D minor Op.121
Arensky: Quintet in D Major Op.51
Saint-Saëns: Scherzo Op. 87
Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor Op. 8
Rachmaninov: Suite No.1 in G Minor Op.5
Janáček: Concertino for Piano, 2 Violins, Viola, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon
Dvořak: Slavonic Dances
Piazzolla: (arr. Bragato) Los Cuatro Estaciones
Ravel: Introduction & Allegro version for 2 pianos
Piazzolla: Tre Tanghi
Pletnev: Fantasia Elvetica

Wholenote Discoveries - June 2009
Ah, Martha! What an icon she has become ever since she burst onto the scene in 1965, her supreme musicality combining a flamboyant life both on and off the stage! (I well remember a Montreal Symphony Orchestra concert I attended years ago where she was soloist, appearing in a dress not in concert-hall black, but fire-truck red!) The Progetto Martha Argerich (Martha Argerich Project) is an annual event now in its eighth consecutive year which runs for three weeks every June as part of the festival held in Lugano, Switzerland. As artistic director, Argerich gathers together some of the finest artists in the world for three weeks of superb chamber-music and what better way than to capture the magic from 2008 than on this 3-disc EMI recording? Indeed, the wonderfully wide range of material contained within is a treat! It includes piano duos, chamber trios, quartets, a concertino for 7 instruments, and even a short suite for two pianos and chamber orchestra by pianist Mikhail Pletnev. Composers range from Arensky (the Piano Quintet Op.81), and Dvorak (a set of 4 Slavonic Dances) to Ravel (an arrangement of his Introduction and Allegro for two pianos) and Piazzolla (two suites). Many of the performers involved are well-known musicians with whom Argerich has had long-standing professional relationships, such as cellist Misha Maisky and violinist Renaud Capuçon. Others are less familiar, such as clarinettist Corrado Giufreddi and bassoonist Vincent Godel. Not surprisingly, the level of performance is consistently high throughout, and despite these being live performances, audience noises are kept to a minimum. In all, these three discs comprise some very fine music-making, featuring a worthy blend of well-known pieces with those which are decidedly less familiar. It’s almost as good as being there! Recommended. Richard Haskell
The irresistible ingredients of the Progetto Martha Argerich – world class performances of well-known, lesser-known and barely-known music by the legendary pianist and a “multi-generational artistic family” of musical friends – have established Lugano as a leading destination for summer music festival-goers. For the sixth year in a row, EMI is proud to release a 3-CD set of live recordings from the festival, making the inspirational music making of these chamber music concerts available to a wider audience. The 2008 festival release welcomes back familiar Argerich Lugano collaborators such as Virgin Classics violinist Renaud Capuçon, Mischa Maisky, Lilya Zilberstein, Stephen Kovacevich and Dora Schwarzberg. Repertoire highlights include first recordings by Martha Argerich of works by Janaček, Piazzolla and Mikhail Pletnev. Four of Dvořák’s popular Slavonic Dances (two each from Op. 46 and Op. 72) and the Saint-Saëns Scherzo are complemented by two youthful works: Shostakovich’s rarely performed Piano Trio No. 1 and Rachmaninov’s Suite No. 1 for two pianos. The deeply romantic Piano Quintet by Anton Arensky (1861-1906) demonstrates the freshness and atmospheric immediacy of a handful of excellent works by this lesser-known Russian composer. Also represented are works for varying instrumental combinations by Mozart, Schumann, Ravel and Piazzolla. And Fantasia Elvetica (Swiss Fantasy) shows the compositional feather in the cap of the brilliant pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev, who has over 30 orchestral and chamber works to his credit, including some celebrated piano transcriptions. Filled with Swiss folk tunes and evoking shepherds and cows on the meadows, Fantasia Elvetica was composed in 2006 as a tribute to the composer’s adopted home. Pletnev leads the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana with Martha Argerich and Alexander Mogilewsky as the soloists. No other pianist in the music world today nurtures and promotes talented emerging artists with the same level of personal commitment and belief as Martha Argerich. Her infectious spirit fires her own performances and partnerships as well as those of her colleagues and protégés. In the words of the Financial Times, “…the music flies off the page, like a high-calibre jam session in which the participants throw away worldly cares and listen to each other in the moment of performance. There's polish aplenty, as one might expect of well-established musicians, but more to the point, the CD [of highlights of the 2007 Festival] radiates the freshness and electricity of a special occasion. What's so endearing about Argerich's festival concept is that she blends younger players with more experienced colleagues, so there's a cross-fertilisation of ideas. Even when she plays no part … the same invigorating spirit presides.” The 2005 and 2006 Live from the Lugano Festival collections were nominated for Grammy Awards.