In 1967, the young Italian conductor Claudio Abbado directed the Berlin Philharmonic in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, and the Piano Concerto by Ravel. The soloist was an up-and-coming Argentinian pianist, Martha Argerich, who had won the International Chopin Competition two years earlier. For both Abbado and Argerich, it was their first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, and it was their first recording together. This recording has since been a touchstone performance of these two works, and it has never been out of print.
Forty-six years later, the two collaborated at the 2013 Lucerne Festival for a Mozart concert, playing two concertos with Orchestra Mozart. That group, based in Bologna, Italy, was established with Abbado as its Artistic Director, and is a chamber orchestra made up of both young and experienced musicians from around the world. Together with these two luminaries, they played the Concerto No. 20 in D Minor and Concerto No. 25 in C Major, in which Argerich paid tribute to her former teacher Friedrich Gulda, playing his distinctive cadenza in the first movement.
This concert was released on the Deutsche Grammophon label and is our CD Pick this week, as we continue our celebration of Mozart Month. It’s a stellar performance; one review noted that it “had critics searching for new superlatives.” And with this recording we remember Maestro Abbado, who died one year ago this week. This Mozart concert was one of his last public appearances. His final concert was also recorded at the Lucerne Festival, just a few months after this recording was made.