It is a well-known fact that the brilliant pianist Martha Argerich cancels more concerts than she performs, and that is expected and so not disturbing to symphony audience subscribers. However, lest we forget just how electrifying a performer and solid a musician she really is, here is a testimony from the Verbier Festival in the Swiss Alps - a format she rarely misses. These recordings are from the 2009 Festival and the 2010 Festival and each was recorded live. Argerich collaborates with Gábor Takács-Nagy and the Verbier Chamber Orchestra in fresh and sparkling performances of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major (form 2009) and the Shostakovich Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, Op. 35 (better known as his Piano Concerto No. 1) with David Guerrier, trumpet. Argerich has recorded these works before and played them in public many times, but this particular set of performances is dazzling. Such flair and abandonment and yet still absolutely in line with the composers' concepts.
There are two encores here - in the 2009 performance there is a performance of the Scarlatti Sonata in D minor which Argerich tosses off with aplomb and in the 2010 coupling with the Shostakovich, Gábor Takács-Nagy and the Verbier Chamber Orchestra given an airy and lovely lift to Bizet's Symphony in C major. All of this is in the festival atmosphere that doubtless adds to the vigor and sparkle of these performances. Yes, the sound could be better and the visual could be technically improved, but the sense of presence of Martha Argerich (now 70 years old) is close to overwhelming. A wonderful memento for this great lady of the keyboard Grady Harp, July 11