Listening to this inspired disc is like eaves-dropping on two of the great pianists of our time playing for their own pleasure, oblivious of microphones and without a trace of self-consciousness. How Argerich likes to revisit old favourites, here joining with Pletnev to invest Ravel’s Mother Goose (which she recorded for DG with Nelson Freire and added exotic percussion, 10/97) with the utmost warmth and playful bravura beneath an insouciant Gallic surface.
But the main attraction is a delectable surprise: Pletnev’s arrangement for two pianos of music from Prokofiev’s Cinderella, described in Peter Cossé’s booklet-note as ‘a pianistic pas de deux…that is essentially an appeal – understated and rebellious by turns – on behalf of the oppressed and underprivileged’.
Polar opposites in temperament, Pletnev (a dab hand when it comes to transcriptions) and Argerich play as one: it would be difficult to imagine Prokofiev performed with more winning balletic grace and verve. Scenes flash by as if in some magical kaleidoscope, each episode characterised with pin-point clarity and jewel-like definition. Try the Waltz’s bitter-sweet, off-centre charm, the fierce ‘Quarrel’, the onset of ‘Spring’ after ‘Winter’ and the final pages where the pianists roar and whisper by turn their delight in music-making and you will be enthralled. DG’s sound is exemplary; this is surely a record in a thousand.