A Phenomenal Evening of Chamber Music in the Barbican Hall


Beethoven, Shostakovich, Schumann, Mendelssohn: Janine Jansen (violin); Mischa Maisky (cello); Martha Argerich (piano). Barbican Hall, London, 6.2.2018. (CC)

Janine Jansen (violin), Mischa Maisky (cello) & Martha Argerich (piano) (c) Tom Howard/Barbican

Beethoven – Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.5/2

Shostakovich – Piano Trio No.2 in E minor, Op.67

Schumann – Violin Sonata No.1 in A minor, Op.105

Mendelssohn – Piano Trio No.1 in D minor, Op.49

A sold-out hall is an inevitability when Martha Argerich is part of the equation. Here, in her element in chamber music, she joined forces with long-term musical partner, cellist Mischa Maisky, and a new entrant, Janine Jansen. The results were frequently electric and near-miraculous, the magic climaxing, perhaps, in the encore, the sinuous ‘Duett’ from Schumann’s Op.88 Phantasiestücke of 1842, where Argerich’s magical bed of sound provided the fertile earth beneath two slowly unfolding, echt-Schumann melodies.

Beethoven’s G minor Cello Sonata (1796) initially foregrounds the piano, but one appreciated Maisky’s lines as much as Argerich’s confident contributions: the latter were a bit too confident in this early stage, as her projection of melody seemed to threaten towards the over-enthusiastic. In the second movement Allegro, it was Argerich’s articulation that was simply jaw-droppingly good. It is, it seems, impossible not to notice her masterly excellence. The time-honoured combination of Argerich and Maisky certainly results in a palpable feeling of trust between the two instrumentalists; it was nice to see the relatively new kid on the block in Janine Jansen in Shostakovich’s masterly Second Trio of 1944. The first movement is, characteristically, marked Andante-Moderato. Maisky’s masterly control of high harmonics in this first movement was remarkable, Argerich’s piano grumbling ominously below. Jansen has an incredibly sweet high register; all of this combined to provide maximal contrast to the electric Allegro non troppo. But the real triumph of this performance was the rapt intensity of the Largo, the piano chords blackest of black, stark against Jansen’s achingly powerful line.

Chamber music provided some of Schumann’s most powerful scores. The First Violin Sonata (1851) has had a mixed critical reception. Argerich has long been sovereign in Schumann, and her passionate playing matched her perfectly judged tone and balance, both within the piano writing itself and between herself and her colleague. With Jansen playing at her finest in this reviewer’s experience, this was an unforgettable account, passionate and forceful. Both gave a phenomenal mezza voce in the central Allegretto, a movement of pure magic; the finale was almost sylph-like at times.

It was wonderful to end with Mendelssohn; and big, dramatic Mendelssohn at that in the muscular first movement. In contrast comes the outpouring of the Andante con molto tranquillo, bit it was the virtuoso sense of leggiero touch in the Scherzo that provided the highlight. Argerich’s nimble playing seemed to confirm no lessening of powers.

A phenomenal evening of chamber music; true, chamber music in a large space (the Barbican Hall), but no less entrancing for that. Three such big personalities meeting with such wondrous unanimity of vision was a life-enhancing thing indeed.

Colin Clarke

Print Friendly


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! World Premiere by Novaya Opera of Pushkin – The Opera in the Theatre in the Woods __________________________________
  • NEW! Dartington International Summer School & Festival’s 70th __________________________________
  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018 Blossom Music Festival __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! LA Opera’s 2018/19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Buxton Festival 2018 and its New CEO __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! Newly Discovered Song by Alma Mahler to be Performed in Oxford and Newbury __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group to Perform Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto at Cadogan Hall __________________________________
  • NEW! Rafael de Acha Introduces Some of Cincinnati’s New Musical Entrepreneurs __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB’s 2018 Emerging Dancer will be Chosen at the London Coliseum on 11 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Akram Khan’s Giselle for ENB Can be Seen in Cinemas from 25 April __________________________________
  • NEW! BARRY DOUGLAS IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s Kamara.hu __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H