Translation by María Elena Hartung

  (mhartung@ssdnet.com.ar)

La Nación, BUENOS AIRES

SUNDAY, 3 November, 2002

Her Festival will take place between the 16th. and 23rd. of this month.         

Martha Argerich: "Returning is Always a Need"

An Exclusive Interview with the Argentine Pianist, 

fifteen days away from the start of her Festival

Every summer since 1920 for one month, in the charming birth town of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the prestigious international Salzburg Festival is held. It is the largest gathering in classical music, traditionally known worldwide for the quality of its performances and for the celebrities that it manages to get together for its full calendar.

In the little Austrian town, La Nación found Martha Argerich who, after her performance of Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, together with the Gustav Mahler Jungend Orchester under Claudio Abbado, talked about some of her projects for promoting young pianists, amongst other matters.

In her now empty dressing room and after having signed hundreds of autographs, after being photographed, after receiving greetings and compliments from a long line of fans from all over the world, barefoot and comfortably smoking a cigarette, she showed genuine spontaneity in the informal environment which she likes to create around her.

-After so many years, was there something special which prompted/ motivated you to strongly take up contact again with this country?

-This dates to some three years back.... My friend Rosa Oubiña de Castro, "Cucucha"; she was the most important. But besides I wanted to come back. This year, God willing, I hope to return.

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-Like yourself, Barenboim also returned to the country, and with a marked presence...... 
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-Yes, of course, because there is a sort of need to return. With Barenboim, we have worked together in Berlin at some stage, we know each other very well since we were small (kids - Translator's note).... The one I would like to do something with is Bruno (Gelber), I would like very much to do things with him . I would love to! But until now, we have never managed to coincide (Translator's Note: in time and space). 
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-Will the "Martha Argerich Competition" continue?
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-No, this year it won't be possible because of the current situation. It is impossible for the time being.
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-What do you think of the new generation of Argentine pianists?

I have heard Lavandera and I have a friend, Alejandro Petrasso (a young man who was invited by Argerich to join her in Brussels some years back). Amongst the better known are Nelson Goerner, Ingrid Fliter... 

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-What part of a young pianist's career depends on which recording label will back him? 
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-It's important. It is like a letter of introduction to becoming known, because we pianists are many, there are so many of us! That is the reason that with Jürg Grand, a friend of mine at EMI, we decided on a project to release four records/CD's of four young pianists, and now there will be two more. They are Dong-Hyek Lim, a Korean boy, who I met and listened to when he was 15 years old, Alexander Mogilevsky; Eugeny Brakham and the fourth is Mauricio Vallina. They have each made a "début-recording", which apparently was quite successful or, at least, they are very happy with them! Now there will be two more: a young 20-year old Russian girl (Polina Leshenko - Translator's note!) and a Belgian boy. Both are marvellous!
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Discoverer of Talents
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In her recording enterprise, the brilliant pianist explains in a part of the notes which appear in each of the four recordings released in June this year, that "supporting young and talented artists, helping them to receive recognition, is an integral and essential part of my work. That is why I wish that these four pianists, which I present in this CD series, can quickly find an audience and that their talents be discovered by concert agents and empresarios. Unfortunately, the music "Establishment" wishes to take on less risks now, so I am truly grateful that EMI has accepted to finance the project".

The stars of these careful editions, which Argerich promoted in this very worthy enterprise that promises to continue to place at the reach of the greater public new discoveries of the keyboard scene, are in this first series: Dong-Hyek Lim, who in 2001 was awarded the First Prize in the Margherite Long-Jacques Thibaud International Competition in Paris, as well as other awards, such as the Second Prize in the Moscow Chopin Competition in 1996. Today, only 18 years of age, he is the youngest of the four chosen and continues his studies at the Moscow Conservatory; Eugeny Brakhman, a young 21 year old Russian, winner of the Dino Ciani prize at the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan; Alexander Mogilevsky, of the same age, Ukranian and winner at 15 years of age of the Tchaikovsky International Competition. Curiously, all three pianists are and have been pupils of Professor Lev Naumov in Moscow. And finally, the Cuban Mauricio Vallina, who at 32 is the oldest of the group of virtuosi presented by Argerich.

On the other hand, the idea for these recordings was linked to another initiative: the Progetto Martha Argerich, a week dedicated to music with symphony and chamber music concerts, piano recitals and a "musical marathon", which gathered artists of international fame, amongst them the Argentine pianists Eduardo Hubert and Eduardo Delgado, together with new talents. In this last group, nine young pianists selected by Argerich (such as the Argentine brother and sister, Karin Lechner and Sergio Tiempo). At the same time, of the nine pianists, four of them had already had the honor of receiving the support of EMI together with the sponsorship of EMI Argentina, for a recording of a CD within the series "Martha Argerich presents...." The event was held from 23 to 30 June 2002, within the frame of the Lugano Festival (Switzerland), where the presentation of these recordings also took place. "What I try to do -adds Argerich- is to mix things a bit, like we did during this project that took place during the Lugano Festival. There, many well-known pianists and other unknown pianists gathered and played. We all received the same fee. This is something that is not common, like many other things."

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-Do you feel a special responsibility towards the young?
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-No, it is not responsibility. The word "responsibility" is too lighthearted, the same as "respect". I find a natural interest in young people and when I can I help them, but then it is up to them to make their own careers.
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-What do you feel when you are referred to as a "living legend"?
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-¡Ah! I don't know what to say, I am still here. I have just played with Ida Haendel (a British violinist of Polish origin), who is quite old. They told her: "You are a legend!", and she replied: "I hate that word". And she left....  She didn't like it at all.
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-How do you feel each time you face a stage?
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-I really don't know how to say this.... I am dead tired, I am on a kind of marathon: it has been two months that I have been going around from place to place, I played 24 different works......
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-Do you have a dream or an unattainable musical phantasy?
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-Many. Right now I am here to play in Salzburg for the first time since Friederich Gulda's death, my great teacher, and I am here with Rogger; do you know him? This gentleman who was here a minute ago, the famous and legendary violinist with whom I was with in Buenos Aires and in Russia so many years ago.... (she was referring to the 80 year old Italian musician Ruggero Ricci). He was married to an Argentine and his son was also born there.... I don't know! Maybe I would like to be able to improvise (on the piano - Translator's note), for example. And no, I can't do that. I would like to be able to do that very much. About the rest, I'm happy.
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-However, when I congratulated you on this concert you answered with a gesture....
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-Because I didn't like it that much. I didn't like the way I played.
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By Cecilia Scalisi
For LA NACION
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 For your agenda

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  • TICKETS:   Season tickets are on sale for the Martha Argerich Festival II, which will take place between 16 and 23 November of this month, at the Teatro Colón. Amongst those participating will be Charles Dutoit, the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, the Camerata Bariloche and various soloists and chamber groups. For information call the Teatro Colón Foundation (organizer of the Festival) at : (54-11) 4378-7140/7141.