An Interview with Martha Argerich
by Radio 3 in Italy
Transcribed and translated for us by Paolo Pettinato
The interview took place on February 16, 2000 in the dressing room after the performance of the Beethoven 2nd Concerto, with Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Ferrara, Italy, at the Teatro Comunale.
R. "Good evening Mrs Argerich, we're Radiotre, live.
We're broadcasting the concert."
A. "Is it the radio?"
R. "Yes, it's the radio....first of all, great compliments!
It was a marvelous performance!"
A. "I feel nervous, I don't know why....but I feel very odd.
I've just come from Japan and had the flu.
I don't know, but I felt so nervous."
R. "At the end of the first movement I saw you look at
Abbado, I don't know, what did you ask him?"
A. "Whether I had played well ... he answered: "No! Pugh!"
Just so! That is all!" ( laughing )
R. "Ms Argerich, you and Abbado dedicated this concert
to Gulda. Why?"
A. (becoming serious) "He was our teacher.
In Vienna, Salzburg ... I knew Claudio during a piano
masterclass of Friedrich Gulda in Salzburg, when he was
young, and so was I ... Friedrich Gulda died last
January 27 ... He was very important for me."
R. "Did you speak to him in the last few years?"
A. "Sometimes, yes. Not a lot, but a little, yes."
R: "Tell us the truth, after being one of his pupils, now,
as colleague, as pianist, what do you think about
his activity during this last part of his career, when
he devoted himself to Jazz?"
A. "Yes, I know he recently played in Turin, etc. I don't
know exactly what he did ... but I admire him so much,
always. He wanted to be free when he played the piano.
If he played what people wanted, such as Mozart,
Beethoven, Schubert, he was loved by them! But they
didn't like his mixture of things or what he really wanted
to do, no? ... It was difficult ... how can I say ...
a difficult course, I think."
R: "Yes, but did you like this side of Gulda?"
A. "Yes, I did. You could feel his spontaneity, curiosity, and a
love for music -- for all music, not only for classical music.
He liked all music, he said, "All musicians are my friends" --
musicians of Flamenco, of Jazz, Rock ... he loved Arabian music
a lot too. He was a such an open-minded person, so vital in
this sense ... I find it wonderful."
R. "Yes, and this is the beauty of music. But you show this
attitude as well, above all during your duo-recitals with
A. "Maybe, I don't know ... but we're more conventional.
He was not very conventional ... he was a genius in this sense.
R. "Don't you sometimes feel like doing something unconventional?"
A. "Yes, but not on purpose -- it must be natural, don't you
think?" ( laughing )
R. "Yes, of course ... well, how do you judge the young musicians
of this Orchestra?"
A. "Oh, very good ... moreover, Abbado is a wonder because
he [she does a sonorous kiss for Abbado over the airwaves here]
feels how everything must be done ... he helps me a lot."
R. "Recently, I read a point you made about the carelessness toward
women pianists of this 20th century."
A. "Yes, Annie Fisher for example. There has been a CD set released
with the great pianists of this century: Ms. Fischer was an
extraordinary pianist but she doesn't appear. Another example
is Mrs. Maria Tipo, for me she's sensational ... Today, she doesn't
play any longer. There are many pianists very interesting
today too ... there are Pires, Zilberstein, Anna Kravtchenko
whom I don't know personally, but I know she's formidable."
[ Note by Paolo: From Rome, a colleague of the reporter is
asking, or rather, imploring him ( by earphone ) to hug Martha.
But our reporter is very embarrassed. ]
R. "Mrs Argerich, from Rome my colleagues are so moved
by the concert you played ..."
A. (interrupting) "Why, why?"
R. "Because they liked it very much."
R. "Yes ... ehm ... and so they want me to hug you for them
... I don't know..."
A. (laughing) "If you are wanting to, OK !
. . .
I'm feeling hugged by all of you!
R. "Thank you!"
Photo Credit: Photo above is by musician Isabelle Briner, a member of the MCO (Mahler Chamber Orchestra) who shot the photo during their rehearsals of the concert of last February 16&17 (2000) with Argerich, in Ferrara, Italy.
The smaller, clickable image was used on a webpage on Claudio Abbado and the larger one is courtesy of Isabelle Briner, Copyright ©2000