Perlman and Argerich have only played together on one previous occasion: in Saratoga, New York in 1998. A disc of Beethoven and Franck exists from that time, but their previously unreleased live recording of Schumann’s Violin Sonata No 1 opens this new disc. It is clear from the start that a rapport exists between these two great artists. Argerich also recorded this work with Gidon Kremer, whose more sharply articulated style was well suited to her pianism, but there is no denying the synchronicity heard here in the ebb and flow of the first movement.
The rest of the disc was recorded in the studio this March, when Argerich was 74 and Perlman 70. They might have been 40: I hear no lessening whatsoever of the pianist’s dynamism or the violinist’s rich tone and rock-solid pitch. Schumann’s Drei Fantasiestücke follow, beautifully realised, and the remarkable Scherzo by Brahms from the “F-A-E Sonata”, to which he contributed this single movement. Later Schumann replaced the two movements written by his protégées Brahms and Albert Dietrich, and the work became Schumann’s Third Sonata.
Both players lean into their instruments, which makes for exciting Brahms but anachronistic Bach (in the latter’s Sonata No 4). Nevertheless, their music-making is deeply felt. In the opening Siciliano and the Adagio, Perlman’s singing tone reveals the strength and beauty of Bach’s melodic line, while Argerich’s subtly shaded accompaniment never loses energy. Very special.