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Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, March 2012

Listening to the Beethoven and the rapturous applause and shrieks of delight that greeted its close you are left in no doubt as to the audience’s collective opinion. I can find nothing to take exception to I must say; the playing is impeccable, accurate and perfectly engaging. She has an uncanny ability to make everything she plays sound special. She never falls into a style that she applies to other composers’ works. Instead she finds a unique voice for each and you are hard pressed to imagine the composers themselves taking issue with her interpretation. The little gem of the Scarlatti sonata bubbles and fizzes with energetic delight. The Shostakovich likewise is played in a way that emphasises the joyful nature of the work. The music is so infectious and Argerich’s dexterity is amply demonstrated with some great filming of her hands as they dash up and down the keyboard. It is pleasing to see Gábor Takács-Nagy’s face as he conducts. If ever there was an example of a conductor enjoying the very process of conducting surely this must be it. His face is illuminated with impish delight throughout the whole disc and particularly in the final work, Bizet’s effervescent, youthful symphony in C. The orchestra is not one I know but they respond well to their maestro.

Am I too easily pleased—I don’t know but I have to let my ears do the work as I am unable to sit looking at a score to check in detail what is being done. My ears have given it my seal of approval for what it’s worth and I enjoyed it. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, November 2011

ARGERICH, Martha: Live at the Verbier Festival (2009-2010) (NTSC) 3079568
ARGERICH, Martha: Live at the Verbier Festival (2009-2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 3079564

…Martha Argerich…gives these concertos—both staples of her repertoire—youthful, quick-tempered performances full of biting accents and sparklingly clear inner lines, producing kick-ass rhythms and a sizzling energy that keep you on the edge of your seat…



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, August 2011

ARGERICH, Martha: Live at the Verbier Festival (2009-2010) (NTSC) 3079568
ARGERICH, Martha: Live at the Verbier Festival (2009-2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 3079564

Martha Argerich at her peak of performance…After a superlative performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (one of her favorites), she gives as elegant a reading as you will ever hear of a Scarlatti sonata. Then she is joined by trumpeter David Guerrier in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1—a virtuoso high-spirited romp for all concerned. Excitement diminishes a bit with the “bonus,” Bizet’s Symphony No. 1. Throughout, the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra is in fine form under conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy.




Lawrence Devoe
Blu-rayDefinition.com, July 2011

The Performance

Over a number of years, Martha Argerich, a reclusive Argentinian pianist, has achieved legendary status as much for performances played as for those canceled. Argerich has been an icon for a younger generation of pianists whose careers have been fostered through her annual music festival. The Verbier Festival, held in the shadows of the picturesque Swiss Alps, provides an ideal setting for the performing arts and has been a favored venue for Ms. Argerich for a decade. This Verbier Festival 2010 program, stemming from 2009 and 2010, presents works of Beethoven (Piano Concerto No. 2, B-flat Major, Op. 19), Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No. 1, in C Minor, Op. 35), and Bizet (Symphony in C Minor).

At first glance, these pieces would appear to have little in common until one realizes that all were written by composers who were only in their 20’s. Each composition has a youthful exuberance that Beethoven and Shostakovich would later shed, as would Bizet if he had lived long enough. It is an understatement to say that Argerich delivers the goods in both of the piano concertos. Just watching her collegial interactions and deft finger work are pure pleasures in themselves. The few clinkers that occurred during these concerts can be easily overlooked against a backdrop of sheer charisma and virtuosity.

The sole encore, Scarlatti’s Piano Sonata in D Minor, K 141, is given a breathtaking run through. Conductor Gabor Takacs bears an uncanny resemblance to his late Hungarian countryman Sir Georg Solti. However, unlike like his noted and hard-driving predecessor, Takacs provides a light touch to these basically delicate works. The youthful appearing festival orchestra performs precisely like proverbial Swiss timepieces. The videography is generally good and well balanced. The big “however” here is that the recording is only PCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit). This, I am certain, will be disappointing to those expecting the ambience of a lossless surround soundtrack.

Video Quality

As in many soloist-oriented video recordings, there is a great deal of attention paid to Ms. Argerich’s face and hands. This is interspersed with frequent cutaways to the featured members of the orchestra and the animated figure of Maestro Takacs. The intimacy of the relatively small orchestra is very well conveyed throughout. Color balances and details are excellent and the excited pace of all of these pieces is well captured by the cameramen.

Audio Quality

I find it hard to understand why, in this day and age, a recently recorded live performance, would not take advantage of the highest quality audio modalities, such as DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. While surround channels are usually used for ambience, the sound spread and depth of multichannel reproduction is often helpful in conveying the “liveness” of the performance. The 2-channel sound is not terrible, but it seems relatively flat and lifeless when compared to other concert discs which have higher sampling rates, word lengths and multiple channels.

Supplemental Materials

There are no significant supplements, just trailers for other Idéaleaudience videos.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

I have been a Martha Argerich fan for nearly as long as I can remember. Although she has entered her 8th decade, I could not detect any diminution of her interpretative or technical powers. Taking this program as a case in point, Argerich shifts gears seamlessly over three centuries of keyboard music from Scarlatti to Shostakovich. Each work is voiced as the composer intended with appropriate dynamics and expression. This would not be meaningful if the other parts of this concert were not up to snuff, and they most certainly are. Conductor Takacs is a new face to me but if these performances are typical of his musicianship, then I am eagerly awaiting his next outing. The videography is capable if not extraordinary. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the sound recording. For a recent show, and at a premium price too boot, viewers should expect state-of-the-art high definition sound. In spite of the plain vanilla 2-channel soundtrack, the power and glory of this Verbier Festival performance will stir anyone willing to give it a go. You do owe it to yourself to see one of the pianistic legends of our times, doing what she does best, and giving the lucky audience a brief glimpse of keyboard heaven.






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12:36:02 PM, 1 August 2014
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