Live from Buenos Aires – Schumann: 6 Studies in Canon Form, Op 56; Debussy: En blanc et noir; Bartók: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

Reviewed on Mon 27 Jun, 2016

Daniel Barenboim is the latest to record these works alongside Martha Argerich, and their recording is self-recommending should you want this partnership.

Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim’s return to their native Buenos Aires in July 2015, from which this recording is taken, was much-hyped, and the booklet reflects the euphoria around the event. Debussy’s transcription of Schumann’s six canon-form studies for pedal piano makes a polite and proper entrée. Debussy’s own En blanc et noir demands and receives significant pianistic risk-taking throughout. Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, performed with artists from the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, reaches delirious heights of rhythmic interplay and invention across its three movements. The only serious blot comes courtesy of the recorded acoustic, which restricts the percussive impact of all four musicians. Barenboim is the latest to record these works alongside Argerich, and their recording is self-recommending should you want this partnership. However, studio and live alternatives with other partners merit serious consideration: live from Lugano (Warner Classics) with Lilya Zilberstein offers a restrained take on Schumann and, from the same 3-CD set, a tempestuous account of the Debussy with Stephen Kovacevich. However, Argerich’s 1970s studio sessions with Kovacevich (reissued on Decca The Originals) of the Bartók and Debussy remain uncontested.
–Evan Dickerson