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Ravel, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich

Shostakovich Festival Overture, Op. 9, Ravel Piano Concerto in G, Op. 83, Chopin Mazurka in C, Op. 24 No. 2, Prokofiev excerpts from Romeo and Julie, tSuites Nos. 1 & 2

Martha Argerich, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Temirkanov
Nobel Concert at Stockholm Concert Hall, Dec. 8, 2009.

DVD Euroarts 2057898

Does Martha Argerich ever have a bad day? Her every performance rivets the listener and this Ravel was the centre of an auspicious concert, well filmed from Stockholm.

I was apprehensive about hearing the Prokofiev suites again in concert (were they produced before the ballet itself became firmly established in the repertoire?) but this was superb playing by an orchestra which showed its appreciation of Temirkanov.

Recommended, together with the Lucerne concert reviewed below.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Dvorak, Franck, Shchedrin & Shostakovich

Dvorak: Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66
Franck: Cello Sonata in A major
Shchedrin: Double Concerto for piano, violoncello and orchestra 'Romantic Offering'
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70
BONUS: Behind the Scenes with Rodion Shchedrin, Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky.

Martha Argerich
(piano) & Mischa Maisky (violoncello), Luzerner Sinfonieorchester/Neeme Järvi

Accentus Music: ACC10224

concert photo Franca Pedrazzetti


This DVD offers home viewers a vivid taste of a notable Lucerne Festival experience. The first ever concerto for piano and cello is likely to prompt some young composers to have a go; music for unusual combinations is proliferating (e.g. the Verdehr Trio's 200 commissions for violin/clarinet/piano trios).

Schedrin's essay gives us the rare opportunity to see Argerich tackling something quite new, working from the score and discussing tempi etc at rehearsal.

The new concert is not overwhelmingly convincing as a future repertoire piece, but certainly worth hearing twice; which this DVD makes easy...

The orchestration is full and well filmed at Lucerne, with a real Bonus in the documentary about the preparation of this premiere, joining reharsal days and conversations round about Lucerne's lake and its KKL concert hall; evocative and full of memories for those of us who know it well.

Neeme Jarvi is not the most photogenic of conductors; he does not play to the audience. His work must be mainly done in rehearsal and in the recording studio (over 440 discs !). I found the Dvorak lack-lustre and the Shostakovich symphony not quite the most persuasive of performances.

But what makes this disc an essential purchase is the intensity of Maisky and Argerich in Franck's violin sonata, totally convincing in the Jules Delsart arrangement which the composer approved. And this is definitely better seen as well as heard!

Peter Grahame Woolf