Top Ear

Argerich shines in Haydn and Shostakovich

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Shostakovich: Concerto For Piano, Trumpet And String Orchestra, Op. 35 / Haydn: Concerto For Piano And Orchestra In D Major, Hob. XVIII:11

Jeremy Lee writes

These two light, cheery works suit Argerich’s mercurial temperament very well.  As you would expect, this performance with Jörg Faerber and the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn (two relatively unknown names) just shines.  The Shostakovich Concerto No. 1’s sardonic humor and sly wit never flags under Argerich and her team.  Trumpeter Guy Touvron’s golden, penetrating tone is absolutely charming—those child-like tunes in the Allegro con brio finale are mocking to the degree of hilarity, and his crisp, clean double-tonguing at the very end is of surgical precision.  As for Argerich:  her fingerwork, such as in the repeated notes, may not be as clear as Hamelin’s on Hyperion, but her sense of fun more than makes up for it, surpassing Hamelin’s technically unbeatable yet relatively sober effort.  The exchanges in the coda with the trumpet are truly intense—intensely good-humored.  No quibbles at all for the orchestra’s alert, colorful playing.

The Haydn concerto, similarly, is bubbling with ecstasy.  The light and sparse textures shows that Argerich really does revel in the cheeriness of the themes in the first movement, almost a direct opposite of Michelangeli’s classical, monochrome seriousness bordering on obstinacy.  In fact, the joy Argerich shows in the outer movements is almost infectious.  The slow movement utilizes Wanda Lanowska’s cadenza, which may sound striking at first, but it’s well written and entirely valid.  And the finale is sheer delight.  DG’s 4D sound recording technology may be a gimmick, but the crystal-clear, well-balanced and spacious sound picture is lovely anyway.  So my only major quibble concerns the less than generous playing time.  An immensely enjoyable release that made me fall in love with both of the pieces in the first place.


  • Album name:  Shostakovich:  Piano Concerto No. 1;  Haydn:  Piano Concerto No. 11
  • Performers:  Martha Argerich (piano); Jörg Faerber (conductor); Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn
  • Label:  Deutsche Grammophon 439 864-2
  • Sonics:  Stereo DDD
  • Total playing time:  41:46

Author: Top Ear

Musical hooligans.

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