This is an excellent Rachmaninoff programme, taking us from the high romance of the relatively early Suite No. 1 to the composer’s last opus numbered work, the Symphonic Dances. The Suite No. 1 is a very fine work, and this duo plays gorgeously in that sighing third movement Les larmes. The spectacular finale, Pâques rings out spectacularly, the powerful tone of the well paired pianos delivering a remarkable listening experience.
This boxed set is a veritable treasure trove, an embarrassment of riches, a golden hoard - you come up with the cliché and I’ll accept it. Released along with other sets to celebrate her 70th birthday it is a remarkable musical record of fabulous achievement packed with superlative performances that simply take the breath away.
The first new release for ten years from Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado is their first ever album of concertos by Mozart. The legendary pianist and conductor add the sublime music of Mozart to their unrivaled, multi award-winning DG discography of concertos by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev, Beethoven and Liszt. Both concertos were recorded with Claudio Abbado s Orchestra Mozart, at concert performances at the 2013 Lucerne Festival that had critics searching for new superlatives. The album contrasts two very different works. Written in D minor, the key of the Queen Of the Night and the opening of Mozart s Requiem, the darkly dramatic No.20, K.466 has a stormy, operatic temperament that looks forward eighteen months to the premiere of Don Giovanni. With its majestic and radiant opening and a march famously reminiscent of the Marseillaise, No.25 in C major, K.503 is the culmination of the twelve transcendent concertos Mozart wrote in Vienna between 1784 and 1786. This release is Martha Argerich s first recording of solo concertos by Mozart on Deutsche Grammophon.
A case of deja entendu here, since I reviewed these performances when they originally came out. I enjoyed them then and still do, for both artists offer wit, affection and agility. One can at times think the sheer force and passion of Martha Argerich's personality a bit too obvious, not least in the C major Sonata, where Maisky characteristically sounds smoother and more persuasive.
The connections between Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim run deeper than the fact that they are both Argentines; Argerich studied with Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who also taught Barenboim's father, and the pianists both have Russian-Jewish-Argentine ancestry. They have the kind of instinctive understanding, coming from shared experiences, that makes for successful duo piano work, and that sets this live recording apart from the majority of superstar pairings.
Russian pianist Arcadi Volodos has been known for high-powered Liszt performances and for gee-whiz transcriptions of works like Mozart's Rondo alla turca that seem to add an impossible collection of polyphonic lines to the music. All that could have been expected from this 2003 recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23, was another big, powerful interpretation to join the others already out there.
August brings a new batch of (six) titles in the Virtuoso series. Building the range of recordings with big symphonies, key concertos, influential choral works and appealing chamber music. All of the titles in the series offer excellent recordings, famous artists, strong visuals, innovative booklet notes and best-selling composers. They tick every box to make serious classical music as easy and approachable as can be, with integrity and without compromise.
The Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Volker Hartung and pianist Hubert Salwarowski are presented in a most exciting performance of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and Brahms Symphony No.2.