Scintillating performances from everyone involved. All the pianists seem infected with Argerich's fabulous dexterity and determination to break all possible speed limits and just occasionally a little more tenderness or wit wouldn't go amiss in the mixture but the high spirits are infectious and this is just the kind of thing to cheer you up on a damp Tuesday afternoon. The highlights are undoubtedly Liszt's Reminiscences of Don Giovanni, the Schumann and the Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream pieces but there's not a dull moment here.
I have to admit that when I saw the track list on this CD I almost jumped for joy. Could it be that a recording of the duet version of Mendelssohn's Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream has finally been recorded and by none other than Martha Argerich? It's a fabulous arrangement and when played by two brilliant pianists (as it is here) it's just magic!
It's the teenage Mendelssohn who is the real hero of this compilation, his early (and glorious) Sextet in D is performed magically here with not one dull moment. It sent me scampering to explore what other preposterous masterpieces the boy composed, firstly the Octet (also brilliant but not recorded here). Both the Sextet and the Overture are music of the highest calibre, (as the CD booklet says... "He set a standard of perfection in form, translucency of texture, lucidity of character, dramatic pacing and numerous other respects which he never surpassed" - the writer obviously wasn't thinking about the marvelous Violin Concerto which I think does surpass these early works) and I could listen to them both over and over.
The Ravel is performed with great panache by two unknown pianists, obviously deeply committed musicians and the work comes alive with colour and drama. The same can be said of the Bartok Violin Sonata number 2 and the Liszt 'Reminiscences de Don Juan.' The Rachmaninov pieces are interesting and pleasant, particularly the Russian Rhapsody in e minor. The Chopin Introduction and Polonaise brillante are also scintillatingly performed and highly enjoyable! Fabulous to have some (all-too-rare) Glinka performed so well, as well.
Worth buying, just for the Mendelssohn, the rest are bonuses!
I had never thought of buying any of the recordings in the series and remembering what spurred me on to do so is lost. Now I am acquiring all recordings in the series and regularly find time to sit down and listen to one disc an evening. For anyone who enjoys music purchase them or at least one you will never regret it.
If you play CDs using "windows media player" and like knowing which track you are playing then you cannot with this CD. Windows media currently picks up Japanese version of track listing and displays as square boxes. Those of you with a Playstation 3 can access correct track information.
The audio playback itself is fine as of course are the performances. You may choose to go for the download version if you play files on a computer.