Tuesday 26 April 2016

Live performances that shouldn’t be missed from Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim on a new release from Deutsche Grammophon

Those two giants of the music world, Martha Argerich http://marthargerich.blogspot.co.uk and Daniel Barenboim http://danielbarenboim.com were both born in Buenos Aires, Argentina a city to which they returned in the summer of 2015 for a concert at the Teatro Colón that included works for two pianos by Schumann, Debussy and Bartok.

This concert was recorded and is now available on a new release from

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Robert Schumann’s (1810 - 1856) Six Studies in Canon Form, Op.56 were written in 1845 and later arranged for two pianos by Claude Debussy. Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim bring a lovely leisurely flow to the first study, Nicht zu schnell with some beautifully done decorations. These two could easily be one, such is the terrific interweaving of musical lines. Mit innigem Ausdruck again has a fine flow with these two fine musicians gently pointing up every detail bringing a wonderfully subtle rubato in this most beautifully shaped performance.

The Andantino bring a lovely rolling flow with a subtle rhythmic lift and a fine rubato before Innig that has an exquisitely shaped opening, these two providing such a beautifully gentle touch, subtly illuminated by little hints of passion, a passion brought more fully to bear as the study develops, only to find its opening gentle nature to close.

Nicht zu schnell has a tremendously crisp rhythmic touch from this intuitive duo, quite wonderful. They deliver a stately Adagio, weaving the most lovely lines through passages of fine feeling and depth.

Argerich and Barenboim bring some wonderfully florid phrases to Avec emportement that opens Claude Debussy’s (1862 - 1918) own work for two pianos, En blanc et noir. Their quick-fire phrasing, tempi and dynamics are terrific, rising to some quite wonderful dynamic moments. Lent. Sombre has a dark opening with contrasting drama impressively conjured. They slowly find every detail with some wonderful moments of haunting atmosphere before building through some formidable passages, bringing terrific ensemble and strength. The Scherzando has a wonderfully fluent, quicksilver quality alive to every little twist and turn with so many little subtleties.

This is a masterly performance.

Percussionists Pedro Manuel Torrejón González https://es-es.facebook.com/pedromanuel.torrejongonzalez and Lev Loftus http://jcmf.org.il/artists/lev-loftus join for Béla Bartók’s (1881 - 1945) Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, Sz110.

There is wonderfully hushed timpani at the opening of the Assai lento over which Argerich and Barenboim gently bring the theme. Sudden outbursts send shock waves with this movement building to some wonderfully impressive moments, finding all of Bartók’s rhythmic and harmonic wonders. There is quite thrilling playing here from all these musicians, a great freedom and wonderful panache. The precision between pianos and percussion is impressive with an electricity running right through this performance. These two percussionists provide some wonderfully fleet passages. Combined, they find all of Bartok’s brittle textures before arriving at a powerful peak. There are quieter moments of fine precision and atmosphere before a stunning coda.

In the Lento, ma non troppo percussion set an atmospheric opening to which these two pianists add a slow, finely judged theme, slowly and subtly bringing a more intense rhythmic nature. There is a terrific ensemble between musicians with a magnetism that is remarkable. They move through passages of subtly increasing drama to a finely drawn coda. 

The Allegro non troppo is full of brilliance as they quickly push forward, full of buoyancy, building through complex passages, wonderfully phrased and shaped. There are some lovely subtle phrases where percussionists and each pianist respond to each other to great effect, making sense of Bartok’s complex phrases and brilliant writing before a delightfully done coda.

Two great musicians have come together in the city of their birth to give us the most wonderful musical experience. The live recording is excellent, with my download full of warmth and detail. The enthusiastic applause is kept at the very end. 

These are performances that shouldn’t be missed. 

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