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A very special occasion, in which two superstars return to their roots in Buenos Aires. There is terrific virtuosity on display all around here, not least from the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, whose vivacity crosses over from the Mozart Figaro Overture into the exposition of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1. This concerto is an Argerich favourite, and her versions with Sinopoli and Wallberg should be required listening. Here, with Barenboim as a most sympathetic accompanist, the first movement is full of vim; Argerich plumps for the second cadenza, and makes a wholly convincing case. The slow movement’s joys are its interactions between Argerich and the young wind players, while the finale exudes youthful élan and style; Argerich’s fingers are of steel. The encore is a helter-skelter ‘Traumes Wirren’. (Space precludes, alas, detailed consideration of the myriad colours of a bouquet of French orchestral works, including a splendid Ravel Boléro.)

Two days later, the two musicians joined forces again for a (mostly) piano-only event. Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D major (with Barenboim playing primo) is a delight, crisp in the outer movements and expressive in the central Andante; the Schubert Variations on an Original Theme in A-flat major are perfectly judged and impeccably sophisticated, stark contrast to the volcanic Rite of Spring that follows, where Argerich’s fleetness of finger is miraculous. Schumann’s Andante and Variations (Argerich now primo) is heard in the version for two pianos, two cellos and horn in a richly expressive account, with splendid dialogue between the pianists. Lighter fare completes the programme, with a delicious ‘Waltz’ from Rachmaninov’s Second Suite, Carlos Gustavino’s Ballecito, and a slightly but understandably approximate ‘Brasileira’ from Scaramouche. Miraculous stuff though.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing