Argerich plays Schumann -
reviewed by JOHN BELL YOUNG
'Ms Argerich and company pay glowing tribute to the composer's most celebrated chamber works.'
Few composers have enriched the chamber music repertoire as significantly
as Robert Schumann whose evergreen piano quintet remains every bit as popular
today as it was a century ago. Nor has its appeal as a vehicle for chamber
ensembles and pianists diminished, and with good reason: its generosity
of material, memorable themes and touching sentiment haunt the listener
long after the last notes have died away.
In 1994, pianist Martha Argerich, joined by a select group of colleagues
-- all personal friends as well -- recorded these sumptuous works in an all-Schumann
concert at the Concertgebouw in historic Nijmegen, Holland (not to be confused
with the world renowned hall of the same name in Amsterdam). Nijmegen is
an historic college town well known for its critical, strategic role in
the Second World War.
In this survey of Schumann, whose spirit is amply captured on this disc,
Ms Argerich and company pay glowing tribute to the composer's most
celebrated chamber works. Of course, Ms Argerich has by now become something
of a cult figure in classical music culture, made all the more palpable
by her recent bout with and victory over cancer. Her thick mane and earth-mother
persona belie that underneath it all is a spectacular virtuoso of the first
rank who is not so self-centered as to set herself above a collaborative
effort. Thus in the abundantly lyrical Quintet, her jewel-like sound and
liquid phrasing prove ideally suited to the larger, integral task of weaving
in and out, stealth like, among the soaring lines and musical precipices
of the string players.
Copyright © 22 September 2002
John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA