Martha Argerich & Itzhak Perlman
Schumann, Bach, Brahms
Warner Classics, 2016
This album was presented to the public as the first studio recording made by pianist Martha Argerich and violinist Itzhak Perlman, but in fact it is a simplification. It is true that the larger part of the album has been recently recorded in studio, but the first composition, the Violin Sonata No. 1 by Robert Schumann, dates back to a live concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 1998. If the clarification was necessary, the inaccuracy is forgivable, since the technicians of the Warner Classics did their best to delete all background noise from the live recording and make it sound as uniform as possible with the subsequent ones.
In addition to the aforementioned Sonata, there are three more compositions in the album: Drei Fantasiestücke, again by Schumann, Sonatensatz in C minor by Johannes Brahms and, at last, the Sonata for violin and piano n. 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach. This last seemed out of place to me after many works by German Romanticists, but I changed my mind after I listened to the piece, which finds its space without jarring, thanks to the replacement of the original harpsichord with the piano.
As for the performance the understanding between Argerich and Perlman. We may perceive in the pianist and in the violinist that sense of abandonment to the music that usually accompanies the best interpretations, together with technical rigour and, at the same time, expressive warmth. Argerich draws from the piano a myriad of incredible colours, which give every composition a crystalline and thrilling touch, while Perlman is from time to time intense (Schumann) or mild (hear in particular the second movement of Bach’s Sonata). The melancholy that pervades Drei Fantasiestücke makes the two pieces moving and gives them a touch of intimacy, to which the Sonatensatz in C minor, immediately following, replies creating a glowing contrast.
This album cannot fail to meet the expectations of the listeners and must be heard in one breath the first time and be tasted in small doses later, so you can appreciate both the general and the particular. It is undoubtedly a musical gem.