(Latest main articles/reviews, more or less, on top)
====Newsday, March 27====
Argentine Adoration at Carnegie
By Justin Davidson, Staff Writer
It's pianist's first solo U.S. recital in 19 years.
MARTHA ARGERICH, piano.
Music by Bach, Chopin, Prokofiev,Schumann
With Nelson Freire, piano and the Juilliard String
Quartet. Carnegie Hall.
Seen Saturday night.
PERHAPS, in its 109-year history, Carnegie Hall has seen a
night like Saturday's recital by Martha Argerich - her first in
this country in 19 years.
But maybe not. Having gone so long without hearing the
pyrogenic Argentinian pianist play solo, a tenacious audience
howled and stamped, demanding six curtain calls before
intermission, and 16 more at the end of the concert, refusing to
go home even when the lights went up and a stagehand removed the
page-turner's chair. People had noticed that the piano bench
stayed - and understood it might still get used. It was.
What prompted this sustained adoration was not just the rarity
of the event - she has, after all, appeared at Carnegie Hall with
orchestras with reasonable regularity - but the sense she created
that music is a wild, elemental activity. I can't think of
another pianist who commands such a volatile combination of
technical mastery and unselfconsciousness. Her greatest peers
deal in deliberate sensitivity, structure and microscopic poetry,
but Argerich's playing seems to well up from some bubbling,
liquid core of musicality and fear. She sped up to the very edge
of her technical control, always threatening to spin off into a
series of hysterical shudders.
Her stampede through Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata transformed a
work of cruel, hammering chords and bristling harmonies into a
Chaos lurked, too, behind her rendering of Chopin's
C-sharp minor Scherzo.
She plays lyrical passages the way a tiger purrs: dangerously,
with a quiet intimation of violence. The Chopin F-sharp major
Barcarolle opened with a reassuring splash of waves that soon
built into a seismic tremor. The fragile counterpoint of Bach's
Partita No. 2 coiled into something tensile and terrible, like a
steel cable humming in the wind.
Paradoxically, Argerich, who has said that she hates feeling
lonely onstage, filled the second half of her non-solo recital
with chamber music, where frenzy must be a joint decision and
rapture a collective experience.
Somehow, the voltage that courses through Argerich's veins jumps
like lightning into her partners'. The Brazilian pianist Nelson
Freire matched her heat in a two-piano version of Ravel's "La
Valse," an evocation of a ballroom gone insane. The Juilliard
Quartet, always an intense ensemble, joined her in a messy but
incandescent performance of Schumann's E-flat major Piano
The melodies surged in controlled eruptions, and the third
movement broke into a wild gallop.
After that, merely to clap seemed somehow insufficient.
- Justin Davidson
====American Record Guide, July 2000====
The entire interview is too good as a whole to excerpt, so I am hoping the publisher will forgive my quoting the entire piece, for this occasion, while crediting the source.
Review by Shirley Fleming
"Prokofieff is the composer with whom Argerich is probably most closely associated, and his Sonata No. 7 brought into focus the qualities that ignite her playing so vividly. The first movement (marked inquieta - an understatement) was an exhibition of ferocity and whiplash intensity; the melodic warmth of the slow movement was given great tenderness; the pulverizing finale was simply volcanic, based on pile-driving left-hand hammers in the bass that must have shaken the foundations of the stage. One's stomach was clenched when she finished."
See Full review here for now.
====New York Times review====
James R. Oestreich's review in NY Times's New York Today.
Photo: Steve J. Sherman
Photo at right, by Chris Lee, from the March 14 Prokofiev 3rd concert, introduced the online version of The New York Times review of the recital.
Start of the NY Times review:
"Electricity Onstage, Then a Tumult Off
James R. Oestreich, 03/27/00
Carnegie Hall may not have offered anything quite like this since
Vladimir Horowitz returned to the recital stage in 1965 after a
dozen years of retirement. Here, on Saturday evening, was the
electrifying Argentine pianist Martha Argerich in her first major
solo appearance in 19 years."
See the rest of James R. Oestreich's review here.
"A Poetic Side to Prokofief? Yes Indeed" - by Allan Kozinn for the NY Times, reviewing the 3/14/00 Prokofiev Concerto #3 at Carnegie Hall. (If the link fails, try the copy posted in the L-Soft Classical Music archives.
That forum archive includes a report for the Classical Music List by composer Paul W. Hofreiter on this concert in Philadelphia 4 days before. Here's the forum-archive list including those March 2000 topics and responses to them.
====Excerpts from NY Times, April 2====
New Jersey Weekly Desk
Pianist Takes Back Seat, But His Talent Doesn't
By LESLIE KANDELL
April 2, 2000
. . .
Now imagine this scene: Ms. Argerich, frantically acclaimed by a
standing, shouting, full hall, refused to take any solo bows at
all. Over and over she dragged Mr. Friere back onstage, and amid
a half-hour of curtain calls, she allowed only two encores, both
partnered with him.
The two artists have more in common than their South American
birth and lifelong friendship. Musically they are soul mates: the
music sits lightly with them and they bear it swiftly along. A
Rachmaninoff encore went like the wind but kept its shape --
revealed it, in fact. A Ravel encore, the Pagoda segment from
''Mother Goose,'' wafted like an oriental fragrance.
Mr. Freire's back-seat demeanor places him in a position of
perpetually being discovered. The substitution brainstorm came
from Anthony Fogg, the Boston Symphony's Australian-born artistic
administrator, who once brought Mr. Freire to Australia. ''He's a
forgotten figure in American musical life,'' said Mr. Fogg. ''He
doesn't like to play a lot of concerts. His musical temperament
is so intense that a few is all he can sustain.'' What appeals to
Mr. Fogg about the playing, he said, is ''the beauty of sound --
very much an Old World style -- and the absolute clarity.''
Mr. Freire could certainly be a top artist if he found a way to
bench his modesty. He doesn't seem to be looking, however. After
the Carnegie Hall finale, Argerich fans thronged the corridor,
scanning the guest list for their names, pleading with the door
staff. Mr. Freire, predictably, had no guest list at all, and was
not seeing anybody.
Also typically, requests for an interview of Mr. Freire for this
article went unheeded.
Audience members hoping to stand on his line Friday might do
better to home in on what should be a memorable performance.
BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Seiji Ozawa, conductor, Nelson Freire, piano. Works by Berlioz,
Friday, 8 p.m.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Center Street, Newark.
- Leslie Kandell
====NY Times interview with Martha Argerich, March 25====
Interview conducted by ANTHONY TOMMASINI
An Enigmatic Pianist Reclaims Her Stardom
Published on the Front Page of the New York Times, March 25, 2000.
This was the first in-depth interview, in English, given to a periodical in over 20 years. (Excerpts from the 1978 Clavier interview by Dean Elder can be read here.)
From online tour of Carnegie Hall
("From the wings" perspective is found under "Stage Door" option.).
=== Beginning of the NY Times interview===
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
"Few people who have heard the tempestuous Argentine-born pianist
Martha Argerich play ever forget it. She is a colossal
technician, a powerfully intuitive musician and an electrifying
performer. Just last week at Carnegie Hall, as soloist with the
Philadelphia Orchestra... Her fiery, ecstatic performance elicited a
frenzied ovation, including 10 curtain calls, from a sold-out
Though she inspires cultlike devotion among ordinary
concertgoers, her admirers include many of the world's most
respected musicians. Mstislav Rostropovich, the great cellist and
conductor, recently called her 'a pianist with no limits at all,
none whatsoever.' ..."
=== Read the rest of it at Google Groups, where it was reposted for discussion
when the original article was no longer available.===
Updated Feb. 5, 2017:
The original NYTimes article is now available at their Archives: An Enigmatic Pianist Reclaims her Stardom.
And you can read other archived articles by Anthony Tommasini in which Martha is a topic.
====Tower Classical epulse magazine, April 3====
Tower Classical epulse online
The weekly ezine published by Tower Records/Video
April 3, 2000
CLASSICAL CONCERT OF THE WEEK:
Carnegie Hall may have hosted better concerts this season -- though I doubt it -- but none had so electric an atmosphere nor such a semi-hysterical audience outburst of love and gratitude than MARTHA ARGERICH's first New York solo recital in 19 years.
She stepped from the wings to a standing ovation lasting several minutes. Before the applause died down, she struck the gravely powerful opening chords of Bach's Partita No. 2 and continued with a scintillating performance of the work, its closing Capriccio more a fiery flow of molten lava than mere notes on a keyboard.
Clad in black, her mane of brown hair covering her face, she then launched into Chopin's "Barcarolle," turning it into an outsized tragic tone poem. The gently rocking figure in the bass took on an ominous air; the trills, merely delicate pianistic lacework in conventional performances, became bell-like portentous omens.
Chopin's C-sharp minor Scherzo was powerfully turbulent, its wide dynamic range moved from soft caresses of the keys to violent emotional outbursts.
Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7 was breathtaking, the long poetic stillness of the central slow movement giving way to a finale of almost superhuman speed and power.
After intermission Argerich was joined by the Juilliard Quartet in a Schumann Quintet that had all her earmarks of impetuous forward thrust.
Finally, with Nelson Freire, she closed with a two piano version of Ravel's "La Valse" that brought a frenzied half-hour ovation that forced two encores and countless bows even after the hall lights were turned down several times. An evening to remember.
- Dan Davis
To subscribe to epulse, send the message "subscribe epulse-L"
to the address: email@example.com.
====Globe And Mail [Toronto] March 28, 1999====
Special to the Globe and Mail
Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Argerich's return displayed grace under pressure
New York -- Carnegie Hall, New York March 25
This spring has been a season of rapprochement and renewal for
the great Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, who is back in black
after a harrowing 10-year battle with cancer.
Over the past few weeks the raven-haired, brown-eyed, 58-year-old
virtuoso has broken several of her self-imposed taboos, to the
delight of her hard-core fans. On March 14, a Carnegie Hall
audience refused to leave until she gave an encore -- which she
did, for the first time in recent memory. Then on Saturday, again
at Carnegie Hall, Argerich gave her first New York solo recital
in two decades, preceded by the publication in The New York Times
of her first official interview since 1980.
Argerich has never felt comfortable with the touring and
publicity of a concert pianist's career. "I love to play the
piano, but I don't like being a pianist," she once said. She told
the Times that she is a "very obsessive person," which is hardly
news to those in the know. Argerich is famous for not giving
interviews, autographs, encores, or solo recitals. She only plays
chamber music and concertos with conductors and musicians who are
her personal friends.
Argerich also told the Times of her debilitating depression in
the early 1960s, when she just watched television and considered
becoming a secretary. But in 1965 she won first prize in the
Chopin International Competition in Warsaw, and has been a
megastar ever since.
Her personal life has been tempestuous. She had three children by
three different men, including Montreal Symphony Orchestra
artistic director Charles Dutoit, her husband from 1969-1973.
Today she is surrounded by worshipful acolytes, mostly young
pianists, who protect her from disturbance and exploitation. Even
with all these precautions, she still cancels regularly. Until
Argerich actually walks on-stage, you never know if she'll show.
The watershed event in Argerich's adult life was the diagnosis 10
years ago of melanoma, a virulent form of skin cancer. Though she
was treated, the disease recurred five years later, spreading to
her lymph nodes and lungs. "I was afraid of my own body," she
told the Times. "I was afraid of myself for the first time;
afraid to be me."
Argerich turned to the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa
Monica, Calif., where some lung tissue was removed and she was
treated with an experimental vaccine. Her cancer is currently in
remission, but the prognosis is uncertain.
In gratitude to the institute, Argerich agreed to play Saturday's
recital as a benefit. The concert was sold out months ago.
Violinist Isaac Stern and pundit William F. Buckley were in their
boxes for the event.
Dressed in her trademark plain black gown, clutching a white
handkerchief, peeking from behind a thick curtain of pitch black
hair, Argerich's pale visage and beatific expression make her
classical music's Mona Lisa.
Intimations of mortality seem to have given Argerich new
interpretive courage and freedom. She warmed up with Bach's
Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826, played with nervous haste in
the fast passages and limpid tone in the slower dance movements.
In Chopin's dreamy Barcarolle in F-sharp minor, Op. 60, she hit
her stride, treating us to seamless jeu perlé. A breathtaking
account of Chopin's Scherzo in C-sharp minor, Op. 39, gave
Argerich a chance to display phenomenal grace under pressure. Her
rapid but unerring shifting from low chords to breezy descending
runs earned her the first standing ovation of the evening.
Paradoxically, Argerich seemed to be more uneasy with slow,
sentimental, emotionally exposed music, such as the Chopin, than
with Prokofiev's devilishly difficult Sonata No. 7 in B-flat
major, Op. 83, which followed. Prokofiev's war sonata is the kind
of knuckle-busting mind-bender that gets Argerich's juices
flowing. In the concluding Precipitato movement, she hammered out
the piston-driven 7/8 meter with rhythmic intensity, melding
body, mind and piano into one furious machine.
After the intermission, the Juilliard Quartet's gritty first
violin and off-pitch cello all but ruined Schumann's Piano
Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44. Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire
teamed up with Argerich for Ravel's 1921 two piano arrangement of
La Valse. They gave two encores: a Rachmaninov suite for two
pianos, and the four-hand arrangement of Ravel's Ma Mere L'Oie.
The countless bows only ended when the house lights were turned
off and technicians dismantled the piano.
Argerich plays [AB: is scheduled to play] Saint-Saens Piano
Concerto No. 2 with the Montreal Symphony at Place des Arts,
Montreal, on May 23-24; Tel. 514-842-9951.
Web site: http://www.osm.ca.
- PHILIP ANSON
Also, Excerpts from Philip Anson's review of
the March 16 Prokofiev Concerto:
March 16, 2000
The (Toronto) Globe and Mail
CLASSICAL MUSIC MARTHA ARGERICH
Diva plays straight from the heart and the crowd loves it
New York -- And the Philadelphia Orchestra At Carnegie Hall in
New York, on Tuesday
Martha Argerich 's reputation as the greatest pianist of her
generation was spectacularly confirmed at Carnegie Hall on
...From the first bars of Prokofiev's
Piano Concerto No. 3, the audience knew that Argerich was
staking out new territory. The Prokofiev is an Argerich
warhorse (she recorded it twice, and her 1998 recording just
won the Grammy for best instrumental soloist with orchestra).
But this performance was much deeper and more contemplative
than her last run through of it, at Carnegie Hall in October,
1998, with the Montreal Symphony under Charles Dutoit. Instead
of being dazzled by grandiose fireworks, we revelled in the
warmth of a subterranean fire that Argerich has kept hidden too
Of course, the fingers of steel, flawless runs and chiselled
staccato were breathtakingly still there. The rhythmically
tricky third variation with its accented off-beats was
hypnotically precise. But the razzle dazzle was tempered by
dreamy digressions, such as the second movement's fourth
variation, marked "delicate" and "meditative," that seemed to
make time stand still. Where previously Argerich had shone a
harsh Soviet spotlight, she now bathed the music in Debussian
opalescence. You could have heard a pin drop.
When it was over, she endured five standing ovations before she
finally sat down to play an encore. The cream of the
cognoscenti audience (including violinists Itzhak Perlman and
Kyung-Wha Chung and composer John Corigliano) let out a roar,
aware that history was being made.
No one can remember the last time Argerich gave an encore, and
she hasn't played solo since 1978 (her last solo recording was
made in 1984). The encore, a Scarlatti sonata, was showy and
charming, like Horowitz used to play. Now New York can hardly
wait for March 25, when Argerich gives her first solo recital
in 22 years..."
====Photos by Jeff Friedman - Cyberspatians at Carnegie Hall====
All Ears, at Carnegie Hall, March 25, 2000, 7:40pm
** Be sure to scroll down there, while waiting for first large photo to load ** at Jeff's photo site, to match names to mugs.
For RecMusic talkers, the always inventive Jeremy Cook separately provided "explanatory comments" on the series of pictures. [No longer available.]
Also, a read of The Marmite FAQ might be helpful.
====rec.music.classical.recordings newsgroup (Internet forum)====
Opinions from some rec.music.classical. recordings newsgroup regulars immediately after the concert.
Jeff Friedman Read more reports, on one scrolling page
Carl Tait - Outstanding report
====Great Pianists on Record eGroup (another Internet forum)====
Opinions from archives of Great Pianists forum after the concert.
[Paul Geffen's Great Pianists forum no long exists and were not archived at archive.org.]
Neil McKelvie, 1 of 2 Read all messages at eGroup page
Neil McKelvie, 2 of 2
Alan J. Briker
Andrys from a kiosk
Andrys from home
A vivid report by William Hsieh
We have very different views on the Barcarolle and
much of the Prokofiev while both enjoying the concert and then some.
Hsieh gives us visual detail I'd totally forgotten.
3/25/00 - Benefit Recital - general and music info
CARNEGIE HALL BENEFIT RECITAL
Per the announcement 2/4/00 by Carnegie Hall: the artists donated their services to this event, "the net proceeds of which will benefit the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. Ms. Argerich was successfully treated for her melanoma at the clinic and the proceeds will go toward melanoma research."
With the Juilliard String Quartet and Nelson Freire
Saturday, March 25, 2000 at 8:00 PM (played)
Martha Argerich, Piano
Juilliard String Quartet
Joel Smirnoff, Violin
Ronald Copes, Violin
Samuel Rhodes, Viola
Joel Krosnick, Cello
Nelson Freire, Piano
1st Half of the concert|
BACH Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826
CHOPIN Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60
CHOPIN C# minor Scherzo
PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
2nd Half of the concert
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44
RAVEL La Valse for Two Pianos
RACHMANINOFF 2nd mvmt from Suite No. 2
for 2 pianos
Ravel Laideronnette, Impératrice des Pagodes"
from Ravel's "Ma Mère l'Oye" for four hands
The NY Times Front Page, March 25, day of the recital, carried a substantial interview with Martha Argerich in connection with the fundraiser.
The special benefit reception with Argerich after the recital was a supplemental fundraiser for the John Wayne Cancer Institute.|
Benefit Recital coordinator: Larry Perelman at 212-787-2752 or e-mail him
Those interested in supporting the work of the John Wayne Cancer Institute can contact the Institute at (310)-315-6111.
The History of the Institute can be viewed here.