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Martha Argerich seems to have an affection for Shostakovich’s concerto for piano, trumpet and strings: perhaps, in light of her penchant for chamber music, she enjoys sharing the stage with a second soloist. Her first recording of several dates from 1991 (DG); EuroArts’ Argerich box featured a notable performance. Here, recorded live in 2006, she presents a vibrant performance caught in full, present, immediate and resonant sound. The first movement is markedly playful (a miss at one point reminds us of the live provenance, and that Argerich is human). The Lento exudes peace, and Argerich’s right-hand lines speak volumes; unfortunately, the muted contributions of trumpeter Jakub Waszczeniuk are less eloquent. The trumpet is similarly weak in the fourth movement Finale.

The last movement was encored – and that encore is retained on the present disc (the timings of both last movements in the booklet do not match that of the actual playing time, incidentally, but refer to when the music stops). The encore was merited: there is Shostakovich humour galore; and Argerich is positively outrageous in her solo ‘break’ just before the end.

Rabinovitch-Barakovsky is a superb accompanist, ensuring the performance of the Ninth Symphony is a fine one, the programming appropriate (the foregrounded trumpet of the Presto linking back to the earlier concerto – the piano concerto dates from 1933, the symphony from 1945). Lower string definition is particularly noteworthy in this performance, the recording superbly balanced. The finale is properly outrageous towards the close, which makes the hesitant applause rather puzzling. Nevertheless, this is a most rewarding release.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2018 - ©Rhinegold Publishing