A Piano Evening with Martha Argerich
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Symphony No.1 in D major, Op.25 “Classical” [14:11]
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.1 in D flat major, Op.10 [16:43]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Sonata for Piano and Violin No.1 in A minor, Op.105 [17:27]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1771-1827)
Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra in C major, Op.56 “Triple Concerto” [35:49]
Martha Argerich (piano); Renaud Capuçon (violin); Gautier Capuçon (cello)
Flanders Symphony Orchestra/Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky
rec. live, La Roque d’Anthéron Piano Festival, 2005

As Jeremy Siepmann rightly states in the booklet that accompanies this DVD “For a significant number of people Martha Argerich is simply the greatest pianist of our time”. This DVD is proof again, were it needed, of how true this is. As Siepmann again puts it “No matter what repertoire she plays, she sounds, as they say, “in her element”.” As he explains Argerich is firstly extremely selective about which composer’s music she plays and what of them she plays. Secondly, she is uncategorisable for she does not play each with a recognisable style but with such total understanding and conviction that you feel it is as near as anyone can possibly get to the composer’s intention; that is a rare thing. Her playing is unmannered yet totally convincing in every respect.
Following a lively and enjoyable account of Prokofiev’s “Classical” symphony, during which I could not help noticing the conductor Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s penchant for pinning up the right side of his hair with four hairpins while the other side is left to hang loose; his hair is quite long. Martha Argerich comes onto the stage, which is under a curved roof whilst the audience seating is raked but in the open air - what would happen if it rained I dread to think. She proceeded to give a great performance of Prokofiev’s youthful and playfully entertaining concerto which brought out all the humour in the writing. Siepmann’s description of her hands sometimes reminds one of Chico Marx with his use of index finger like a toy pistol. The stroking of keys with the back of his hand is perfectly justified as she obviously has as much fun playing as he did. Indeed Siepmann later quotes her as saying “I love to play the piano but I don’t like being a pianist”. She then gave a great performance of Schumann’s beautiful sonata together with violinist Renaud Capuçon who often play together. He has Argerich to thank for directing the spotlight onto the Gautier brothers and effectively plucking them from the crowd and ensuring that they achieved the recognition they deserve. The DVD concludes with Beethoven’s wonderful “Triple Concerto” with both the Capuçon brothers joining Martha. Again the playing is so crisp and beautifully articulated by all three and very well served by orchestra and conductor. Goodness knows how many cameras there were and how they managed to achieve the shots. Some of the close-ups of the players’ hands were breathtaking in their clarity and closeness, even showing Martha’s hands from below. This will surely be of great interest to those studying the instruments in question. All in all it is an extremely rewarding and satisfying DVD that will entrance whenever it is played.
Steve Arloff

All in all an extremely rewarding and satisfying DVD that will entrance whenever it is played.