Pianists Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire are stupendous virtuosos, and there's nothing in this recording of their 2009 Salzburg recital of staggeringly difficult works they cannot play. They know each other so well as old duo piano partners that their playing is stunning in its unity, but their distinctive individuality also comes across. What's most impressive about this recital is how completely Argerich and Freire have made this music their own. Brahms' Haydn Variations sound freer and fresher, more playful, and more profound than ever. Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances are thrillingly rhapsodic, rapturous, and dramatic. Schubert's Grand Rondeau is more lyrical, intimate, and graceful than usual, and Ravel's La Valse more ecstatic and apocalyptically over-the-top frightening than in any comparable recordings, including Argerich's own earlier releases. Captured in wonderfully clear yet wholly present digital sound, the performances on this disc will be compulsory listening for anyone who loves music, any music.
The Salzburg Festival has hosted every great star of the opera and concert hall, from Toscanini to Anne-Sophie Mutter, from Fischer-Dieskau to Barenboim, from Pollini to Mitsuko Uchida. In this film, the first to tell the story of this remarkable Festival, set in the birthplace of Mozart, director Tony Palmer has been granted unprecedented access to Austria's film archives. Highlights include performances of Jedermann from 1920 to the present day, featuring actors such as Maximilian Schell and Klaus Maria Brandauer; Don Giovanni (with Furtw ngler in 1954 and a controversial performance directed by Peter Sellars in the 90s); a wealth of footage of Herbert von Karajan, including performances and never-seen-before home movies; and film of the Nazi hierarchy at the Festival during the Second World War. Alongside this historical footage, the film interviews contemporary stars such as Placido Domingo, Valery Gergiev, Lang Lang, James Levine, Anna Netrebko, Riccardo Muti and Simon Rattle, who tell their stories and open their hearts about this unique Festival.