Beethoven/Franck Violin Sonatas
Perlman and Argerich, both big musical personalities, strike sparks off each other in these vividly characterised readings of Beethoven's Kreutzer and the Franck Sonata, recorded live in July 1998. Ensemble is not always immaculate, and audience noises intrude, but this playing could not be more vital. In the Kreutzer, the first movement is fiery and dramatic, the slow movement warmly expressive, and the finale sparkily volatile. The recording, not as immediate as most of Perlman's studio recordings, gives us a better idea than usual of his full range of dynamic and tone.
The approach is strikingly different from the straighter, far less volatile reading which Perlman recorded for Decca with Vladimir Ashkenazy over 25 years earlier in 1973. So it is, too, in the Franck Sonata, which Perlman also recorded with Ashkenazy for Decca in 1968. In a work less formally structured than the Beethoven, the spontaneous interplay of Perlman and Argerich makes for a feeling of rhapsodic improvisation, very apt for this work. The opening finds Argerich deeply reflective, conveying mystery far more than Ashkenazy, before Perlman launches into the Allegro at a markedly faster speed. Some may resist the expressive freedom, whether in phrasing, rubato or in fluctuations of tempo, but the magnetism will for most be irresistible, even when the playing is not immaculate, as in the second-movement Allegro. This is intensely vital music-making, thrillingly captured on the wing.