Martha Argerich & Mischa Maisky

Martha Argerich & Mischa Maisky concert. Argerich, Maisky, and the Lucerne Symphony perform:

1. Dvořák Scherzo capriccioso in D flat major

2. Shchedrin Romantic Offering (world premiere)

3. Franck Sonata for Cello and Piano in A Major

4. Shostakovich Symphony No. 9

Neeme Jarvi conducts the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer. Released 2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

This concert was recorded February 9/10, 2011 in Lucerne. The HDVD came to my door in Dallas, Texas on July 6, less than 6 months later! Now we are getting current events on Blu-ray! This is a concert by the Lucerne Symphony, a relatively small, young band that probably often feels overshadowed by the famous festival. So why did Paul Smaczny, probably the world's most distinguished independent produced of HDVDs, get interested  this?

Well, Smaczny has a keen sense for performances that are also "events." Here the event was a world premier of a double piano/cello concerto written by Rodion Shchedrin under commission from the Lucerne Symphony. And they had recruited Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky to play the first public performance.

The Lucerne folks all but jumped out of their skins at this chance to shine and get recorded to boot. They came up with an exuberant program. Warm-up number was a happy Dvořák Scherzo Capriccioso in D flat Major. Then followed the Shchedrin Romantic Offering double concerto. (The keep case booklet says this is the only double concerto for piano and cello ever written.) Now I don't think Shchedrin was trying to depict young love in this work. Maybe a better title for it might be Battle of the Sexes. But the sophisticated audience went for it and especially loved the spectacle at the end when Shchedrin went on stage and got on his knees kissing Martha's hands. I learned this: no matter how difficult or daunting a piece of music may be to you the novice listener, somebody poured his heart and soul into it---so give it a chance.

After intermission, Martha & Mischa (this time in iridescent blue) came back with the crowd-pleasing Cesar Franck Sonata in A Minor for Cello and Piano. Never mind that Martha was hitting a lot of bad notes at the end---it was fine for the most part. Finally the orchestra returned for a jaunty rendition of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 9 in which the composer seems drunk with joy that he didn't get shot in the Lubyanka. Whew!

The performances here are not quite at the world-class level, but it was, as Smaczny had hoped, a fun event. And there is always that possibility that Romantic Offering will become a popular piece of contemporary music. Then Smaczny can brag he was there. And by buying this HDVD, you can brag too!