For your next trip you travelers, why don’t you try Lugano, capital of the Italian speaking canton Ticino near the sun drenched southern slopes of the Swiss Alps. Preferably in June when Martha Argerich’s annual festival takes place. Since 2002, BSI Bank has sponsored this event, focused on the once raven haired (now completely grey) Argentinean beauty and pianiste extraordinaire, along with a coterie of young musicians to rehearse and perform concerts of the highest caliber and inspiration.
The 3 discs are nicely subdivided into the chamber music of 1) Schumann, Mendelssohn and Chopin, 2) the Hungarians and Russians, and 3) the Spanish and French.
Already on CD 1 there is a stunning piano duet version of the Midsummer Nights Dream Overture where the shimmering pp strings are transcribed into translucent, lightning fast and wonderfully controlled virtuoso piano playing of Argerich and Cristina Marton. Chopin’s early work from his years in Poland, Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, is guaranteed to raise everyone’s blood pressure played with extraordinary flair and abandon by Martha Argerich and Gautier Capuçon (cello).
More unusual pieces follow on CD 2. First the inimitable young violinist Renaud Capuçon plays Bartok’s 2nd Violin Sonata, a “multilayered study in sonority, predominantly discordant harmony and structure yet still traceable to Hungarian folk tradition.” From the Russians we encounter Glinka and Rachmaninov, from the latter a curious rarity, a Waltz for 6 hands at a single piano(!). I would have liked to see this as I’d imagine there could be some logistical problems here.
The third disc features larger scale works and here my favorite was Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole transcribed for two pianos by the composer and played atmospherically and with imagination by Sergio Tiempo and Karin Lechner. A set to treasure. State of the art recordings.