Biography, CD and concert reviews
Concert at Tonhalle
Zurich, January 26,
2001: Martha Argerich, piano and
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn under the direction of
Jörg Faerber, conductor
W.A. Mozart: Overture of "Don
Giovanni" KV 527, 1787
F. Schubert: Symphony no. 3 in F major D 200, 1815
R. Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor op. 54, 1841/1846
Biography of Martha Argerich
Article added on February 2001
Martha Argerich was born in Buenos
Aires in 1941. At 3, she played the
the first time. Two years later, she began taking piano lessons
with Vicenzo Scaramuzza. At 8, she made her concert debut in Buenos Aires,
performing works by Mozart,
Beethoven and Bach. She performed in Buenos Aires' Astral and Colón
theatres. In 1955, she moved with her family of diplomats to Vienna in
order to allow her to study piano with outstanding teachers. She received
tuition from Friedrich Gulda, her principal mentor; her teachers also
include Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Nikita Magaloff and Stefan Askenase.
In 1957, at 16, Martha Argerich
won both the Geneva International Music and the Bolzano Competitions. She
embarked on an intensive program of concerts. At 21, she suffered from
depression for two years. She moved to New York and "didn't do
anything". But, in 1965, she came back to win the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and the Polish Radio Prize
for her performances of Chopin Waltzes and Mazurkas. Argerich credits Stefan Askenase and
his wife with helping to lift her out of her depression and back
into music. From 1969 to 1973, Argerich was married to conductor Charles
Dutoit, with whom she remains good friends.
Martha Argerich rose to fame with her
interpretations of the virtuoso piano literature of the 19th and 20th
centuries. But her repertoire ranges from Bach to Bartók. She is probably
the only pianist capable of setting her own
conditions in the music market, recording only what she wants and with
In the early 1980s, Argerich turned to
chamber music which stresses the interaction between musicians. She
often performs with Nelson
Freire, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, Gidon Kremer and Mischa Maisky. Her
appearances in the concerto repertory became rare and her solo recitals even
She also gives young artists a helping
hand. In September 1999, the first International Martha Argerich Piano
Competition took place in Buenos Aires, with her as the jury's president.
In November 1999, the second Martha Argerich Music Festival took place in
Japan, with concerts and masterclasses being given by Martha Argerich,
Mischa Maisky and Nelson Freire among others.
Martha Argerich's temper does not only show
in her music, but also in her private live. Married only once, with
Dutoit, she has three daughters, Lida, Annie and Stéphanie, from three
CDs, albums, recordings by Martha
Here just a glimpse at a few of the many
albums recorded by Martha Argerich. At 19, she performed Prokofiev's Toccata and
Liszt’s Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody, an album which aroused Horowitz’s wonder.
2000, EMI released CDs with live recordings from a series of historic
concerts in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, given in 1978, 1979 and 1992. One
can hear that Argerich is no woman of musical compromise. Her repertoire
ranges from Bach's Partita No 2 in C minor BWV 826 and Schumann's Fantasy
Pieces op. 12 with their soft play of light and shadow to Ravel's
black romantic cycle Gaspard de la nuit and Ginastera's Danzas
argentinas op. 2. These CDs testify to her volcanic temper and
intuitive playing - don't miss them!
Teldec you can get Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor op. 54, released
in 1994. It is the piece she performed in Zurich on January 26, see the
review article below. On this CD, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under
the direction of Nicolaus Harnoncourt played on a higher level than Jörg
Faerber with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn.
Argerich's piano playing is less improvised, inspired by the moment. Still,
the performance is exuberant.
Grammophon offers among others Argerich's recordings of works by Beethoven
recorded with Giuseppe Sinopoli, Stravinsky's Les Noces with
Leonard Bernstein, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no. 1 with Claudia
Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which was awarded the CD
Compact Award in 1997. Her recordings of Prokovief's Sonatas 1 & 2
and Melodies op. 35b together with Gidon Kremer received the Tokyo
Record Academy Award 1992, the Diapson d'Or 1992 and the Edison Award
1993. The Beethoven Violin Sonatas, also recorded with Kremer,
received the 1985 Record Academy Award.
Concert review, Tonhalle
Zurich, January 26, 2001
On January 26, the
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn (chamber orchestra) under the
Jörg Faerber, with Martha
Argerich on piano, played the Overture from Don
Giovanni by Mozart, Schubert's Symphony no. 3 and Schumann's Piano Concerto op. 54
at the Tonhalle Zurich.
The first part of the evening was solely
performed by the
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn and its conductor. The orchestra,
founded some 40 years ago, has recorded over 500 compositions in its
history. Among them are Shostakovich's Concert for piano, trumpet and
string orchestra and Haydn's Concert for piano in D major, recorded together with Martha Argerich
conductor Jörg Faerber was born in Stuttgart where he studied at the
Staatliche Hochschule für Musik. After eight years as Kapellmeister at
the theatre, he founded the
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, which has traveled nationally and
internationally and gained a reputation.
In Zurich, the performance of Mozart's Overture
of "Don Giovannai" KV 527, composed in 1787 and Schubert's Symphony
no. 3 in F major D 200, composed in 1815, was solid, a touch too
plain. Schubert's Presto vivace was probably the best moment before
the break. Anyhow, the public appreciated it.
Of course, everybody was
eager to see and hear Martha Argerich perform in the second part of the
Schumann's Concert for piano and orchestra in A minor op. 54,
composed in 1841 and 1845, had first been performed at Leipziger
Gewandhaus in 1841 by Clara Schumann under the direction of Mendelssohn.
The editor demanded a traditional concert form in three movements and,
therefore, only in 1845, when Robert had added Intermezzo and Finale,
did the Concert for piano and orchestra become a success.
Martha Argerich's instinctive
playing came to full light in the central theme with its lyric-expressive
nature, which suits the Argentinian born pianist's temper so well.
Although Argerich tried to
control her rebellious nature in order not to embarrass the orchestra, it was
often a job to hard for Jörg Faerber and the
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn to follow the pianist's spirited
playing. Some may remember that, director Charles Dutoit had the same problems
In the Allegro affettuoso,
Argerich masterfully underlined the dramatic moments, bright colors went
side by side with a romantic lyricism. In the Intermezzo, the
orchestra was not able to render the music with the same delicious
subtlety, but sometimes,
especially in the duet between orchestra and piano, the contrast was even
Argerich's playing seemed, as
always, spontaneous. The music was created with ease, it flowed naturally
out of her, it seemed created out of a certain mood in a specific moment.
In the final Allegro vivace, Argerich's virtuosity shone, without ever
becoming an end in itself (sheet music
by Robert Schumann).
She honored the public's
enthusiastic response to her performance with three encores, which built a
sort of fourth part of the evening. She began with one of Domenico
Scarlatti's Keyboard Sonatas, then played a lyric piece by Chopin
in a subdued-romanticist manner and, in the end, offered a virtuous,
extroverted and probably largely improvised composition by Bach, played at
a frantic tempo. Martha Argerich remains a wonder, always able to surprise
the listener. She does not simply play music, she is music.
you also sometimes in search of the
right English, German, French or Italian
musical vocabulary? Help provides the
Practical Vocabulary of Music in four
languages by Roberto Braccini
(3rd ed., Schott Musik, 2000, 435 p.).
Get it from Amazon.de.
Martha Argerich. Photos Copyright: DGG.
Martha Argerich. Photos Copyright: EMI Classics.
Martha Argerich, 1965. Copyright: EMI.
Martha Argerich: The Legendary
1965 Recording. EMI.
Get it from
Martha Argerich: Live from the
Concertgebouw 1978 & 1979. EMI.
Get it from
Martha Argerich: Live from the
Concertgebouw 1978 & 1992. EMI.
Get it from
Amazon.de, Amazon.com, Amazon.fr.
Martha Argerich, Alexandre Ravinovitch:
Mozart Klavierkonzerte Nrn. 10, 19, 20.
1999, Teldec. Get it from
Martha Argerich, Nikolaus Harnoncourt,
Chamber Orchestra of Europe: Robert Schumann Piano Concerto
in A minor op. 54 (also Concerto in D minor with Gidon Kremer). 1994, Teldec. Get it from
Martha Argerich, Gidon Kremer: Prokofief Violin Sonatas 1 & 2,
Melodies op. 35a. Deutsche Grammophon. Get it from
Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk.
Martha Argerich, Michael Collins, Nelson Freire, etc.: Prokofief: Quintet
op. 39; Liszt: Concerto pathétique; Bartók: Contrasts.
Live recording, EMI. Get it from
Martha Argerich, Mischa Maisky,
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra: Robert Schumann: Cellokonzert, Fantasiestücke. Deutsche Grammophon. Get
the CD from
Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk.
by Robert Schumann.
Martha Argerich, Gidon Kremer: Beethoven Violin Sonatas 1-3.
Deutsche Grammophon. Get it from
Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk.
Martha Argerich; Dirigenten Riccardo
Chailly und Kiril Kondrashin;
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks: Rachmaninow
Klavierkonzert 3, Tschaikowsky
Klavierkonzet 1. Philips, 1995. Get it from
Amazon.de, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr.