June 8, 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of robert Schumann, one of the most important romantic composers of the 19th century. To celebrate his vast and impressive output, Deutsche Grammophon and Decca have compiled this 35-CD box set of his most important masterworks. Though this is not a complete edition, it includes every major work and a number of rarities covering every aspect of Schumann's output.
The Beethoven Triple Concerto is a strange work, with the most important–-or at least prominent–-solos given to the cello; it is the instrument which introduces each movement. The remarkable Martha Argerich wisely allows Mischa Maisky to shine in his solos and leading position, but her contribution is anything but back seat. Her customary virtuosity is everywhere in evidence, and, in a way, she turns the piano into the spinal column of the work, with the violin and cello playing around her. Every time Maisky is about to lapse into a mannerism which might detract–-too much sliding, a dynamic slightly exaggerated–-Argerich brings him back, and both of them play with handsome tone. Capucon's violin is recorded a bit stridently (this was taped live in Lugano), but his playing is equally stunning. Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky leads the orchestra matter-of-factly until the final movement, when he catches the proper fire. In the Schumann A minor concerto Argerich is wonderful the solo passages and a fine partner in orchestrated ones and she really makes much of both the lyrical runs and the dance-like passages in the last movement. Recommended.
When Deutsche Grammophon released the first volume (of solo recitals) in this series to celebrate the recordings of Martha Argerich, it became a best-seller. This was followed by a collection of the pianist's concerto recordings, and now, the third collection of chamber ensemble works will be released. The CDs are packaged with original LP-cover artwork along with new liner notes and a host of rare photos and each recording has been newly mastered to ensure the highest quality listening experience.
In our era, when large record companies parade good-looking mediocrities before us as major artists, it is good to be reminded of the real thing. Martha Argerich, as this CD demonstrates, had everything: the looks, the temperament, and the technique. By her mid 20s, she already was a phenomenal artist.
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.
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.