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Lawrence Devoe, August 2011

The Performance

This Blu-ray disc offers music from both 19th and 20th centuries performed in a 2011 concert with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by one of today’s directorial deans, Neeme Järvi. Noted pianist Martha Argerich teams with cello virtuoso Mischa Maisky to perform a world premiere work, Rodion Shchedrin’s “A Romantic Offering,” after a rousing opening to Antonin Dvorak’s Scherzo Capriccioso. Argerich and Maisky follow with the rarely heard Cello Sonata of Cesar Franck and, in an abrupt change of pace, Järvi takes his Swiss forces through a crackling rendition of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 9th Symphony.  The main focus of interest here will be the Shchedrin piece which purports to be the first double concerto for this combination of instruments. The somewhat clangorous and percussive score provides a serious work out for both soloists and through it, one hears the composer’s obvious debts to Shostakovich, his musical godfather. The final movement is the most lyrical section of this piece, and falls more easily on most listeners’ ears. After a relatively routine reading of Dvorak’s orchestral showpiece, Maestro Järvi successfully rallied his forces for an outstanding reading of the Shostakovich symphony. The Franck sonata is actually a transcription of his Violin Sonata for one of the composer’s friends. Here the Argerich-Maisky work their collegial magic to the nth degree.

Video Quality

Director Michael Beyer must be credited with getting the most out of his forces in this concert. There is outstanding close up work with fabulous detail and a beautiful color palette. At the end of the Double Concerto, there is an audience shot of the composer sitting in rapt attention with his wife, the famous ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. The modern and somewhat austere hall provides relatively little visual excitement and is neatly avoided for most of the camera work. There is a nice segue where the camera follows both soloists, conductor and composer offstage for a heart-felt reunion.

Audio Quality

Simply put, the sound recording of this concert is outstanding in all respects. The solo instruments, particularly in the Franck Sonata, receive the natural warmth that occurs in a live acoustic. The piano, a difficult instrument to get right, has a fullness across the range that is exemplary. Some of this is due certainly to Argerich’s exemplary musicianship, but the sound engineers also deserve the credit for getting it right as well. Similarly, cellist Maisky’s instrument literally sings like the human voice it was intended to replicate. The orchestral forces are also given their due. The ambience is very lifelike and you do feel that you are there in the performance hall.

Supplemental Materials

There is a short and quite interesting featurette on the creation of the Shchedrin concerto. It is not often that one can eavesdrop on the creation of a world premiere and this insider’s experience is worth the viewing.

The Definitive Word


As I have become accustomed to the Accentus Music video library, I remain impressed with the high caliber of both audio and video production values and this Blu-ray is certainly no exception. A live event such as this with two world-class soloists is a treasure worth keeping and viewing repeatedly. Given the broad spread of musical fare presented here, there will certainly be something for everyone. I would recommend starting with the Franck sonata for the sheer beauty of the piece and the remarkable contribution by Argerich and Maisky. The Shchedrin concerto might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that should not put off potential viewers and buyers. You simply don’t get such a good combination of music-making, video and sound recording and direction every day.

Robert Benson, August 2011

Concert - DVORAK, A. / SHCHEDRIN, R. / FRANCK, C. / SHOSTAKOVICH, D. (Argerich, Maisky, N. Jarvi) (NTSC) ACC-20224
Concert - DVORAK, A. / SHCHEDRIN, R. / FRANCK, C. / SHOSTAKOVICH, D. (Argerich, Maisky, N. Jarvi) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) ACC-10224

This is an incredible performance that received a huge ovation and for good reason. Composer Shchedrin was present and understandably in a great mood…Argerich and Maisky played a rich performance of Franck’s sonata originally for violin and piano. Neemi Järvi conducted the fine Lucerne Orchestra with his usual expertise, opening with the Dvoƙák Scherzo Capriccioso and ending with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9. This was a brilliant concert—don’t miss it!

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, August 2011

The centerpiece of the program here is Shchedrin’s new Double Concerto, subtitled “Romantic Offering”. Indeed, the bonus track, “Behind the Scenes of a World Premiere”, is devoted largely to Shchedrin and this composition. The work is interesting…the composer wrote the work with Argerich and Maisky in mind and the pair deliver the goods in this performance…the overall performance is good. The sound is excellent in all works and the camera work splendid.

The bonus feature is fascinating: Shchedrin, nearly seventy-nine when it was made, is quite a likeable fellow, and quite lively in his exchanges with Argerich, Maisky and Järvi during rehearsals…this was a most enjoyable disc, a must for Shchedrin’s admirers and those wanting to explore new territory.

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