The Project Martha Argerich at the Lugano Festival came to a memorable close last year after 15 years of outstanding chamber music-making by the then 75-year-old Argentine piano super-virtuoso and her partners, young and not-so-young. The highlight was her return to solo performance, represented by no less than Ravel's Gaspard De La Nuit, a thrilling reading which turns back the clock to her youthful prime in the 1970s.
There is also Ravel's Piano Concerto In G Major with the Orchestra della Svizerra Italiana conducted by Alexander Vedernikov, which bristles with verve and high-octane vibes at every turn, as one expects from this jazz-influenced masterpiece.
New to her discography is Beethoven's Choral Fantasy (conducted by Diego Fasolis), a quasi-concerto with piano and voices which is a preliminary sketch for the Ode To Joy finale of the Choral Symphony. Argerich is simply commanding in its improvisatory solo and rightly draws prolonged cheers.
In the two-piano repertoire, she is joined by Sergei Babayan in Mozart's Sonata In D Major (K.448) and ex-husband Stephen Kovacevich in Debussy's Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Faun, performances which excite merely by means of felicitous touches and knowing nuances.
The balance of three well-filled discs includes music by Bach, Berg, Busoni, Brahms, Falla and Nisinman, the variety and quality of which amount to signing off with a big bang.
Chang Tou Liang
MARTHA ARGERICH & FRIENDS LIVE FROM LUGANO 2016
Warner Classics 0190295831653 (3 CDs)