, July 2010
The new release at hand is not the first filmed concert to be produced in Blu-ray format, but it’s the first I’ve seen, and, from my perspective, its benefits are also its drawbacks…what you will see when you play this disc is a picture of exceptional sharpness, clarity, and contrast, which, as it turns out, may be more of a liability than a benefit…As for the audio side of things, the disc is playable in either standard two-channel PCM stereo or PCM 5.1 surround sound. Musically, as far as I’m concerned, anything Martha Argerich does is worth hearing. Her Schumann concerto is stunning, articulated by a keen rhythmic incisiveness in her passagework that sometimes leads and other times follows the corresponding statements in the orchestra. Riccardo Chailly maintains a tight grip throughout, ensuring precise coordination between soloist and orchestra. Only once, at the beginning of the Intermezzo movement, is there a moment of tempo disagreement; and it’s so minor that it might have gone unnoticed if not for Argerich’s persimmon-puckered expression and a slightly embarrassed grin on the face of one of the horn players. This same performance, by the way, is available on another EuroArts standard DVD  that…substitutes a documentary for the rest of the concert.
The remainder of it, which we do get here, consists of Argerich following the concerto with a brief encore from Schumann’s Kinderszenen; two arrangements for orchestra, one by Tchaikovsky, the other by Ravel, of Schumann piano pieces; and a quite powerful, dramatic performance of Schumann’s Fourth Symphony. I can’t be sure if this is the same performance included in Chailly’s Schumann symphony cycle with the Gewandhaus Orchestra on Decca because I don’t have that set. But I do have his Decca recording of the Fourth Symphony with the Royal Concertgebouw, and I am of a mind that Chailly is one of today’s top podium maestros. His current contract with the Gewandhaus was recently extended through 2015. The orchestra is lucky to have him.