Friday, 14 January 2011

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, January 2011)

Chamber Ensembles
Deutsche Grammophon 477 8847 (6CDs)

Martha Argerich has not made a solo recording for almost 30 years but chamber music has been the obvious beneficiary. This box-set celebrates some of her choicest collaborations. Her duo act with Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire occupies two discs, including the live recording from the 2009 Salzburg Festival, bringing together Ravel’s La Valse and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances in some edge-of-the-seat music making.

Their Bartok Two-Piano Sonata and more Ravel (Spanish Rhapsody and Mother Goose Suite) enjoy riveting percussion partnership from Peter Sadlo and Edgar Guggeis. Still on 2 pianos, Argerich and Mikhail Pletnev rip through the latter’s delectable selection of dances from Prokofiev’s Cinderella.

A meeting of great musical minds also united cellist Mischa Maisky and violinist Gidon Kremer in an incomparable take on piano trios by Tchaikovky and Shostakovich. Is this the “million dollar trio” of our time? Violist Yuri Bashmet joins the threesome for Brahms’ First Piano Quartet, where all four let down their hair with wild abandon in the Hungarian-flavoured gypsy Rondo. At budget price, this collection is close to priceless.

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