Martha Argerich talks with the BBC about Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in e minor
Text of the interview is transcribed by Nicholas Barberis from the BBC broadcast
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This page is based on the post below, slightly modified for the page.
From: Nicholas Barberis
Date sent: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 14:26:27 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: [martha_argerich] transcript of short Martha interview
A while back, BBC radio rebroadcast Martha's (stunning) performance
of the Chopin E minor concerto, from a September 1999 Barbican Hall
concert. Amazingly, she agreed to do a short interview, and talked
about Chopin and the concerto in particular. Here's a transcipt of
what she said, in case some of you are interested. (Apologies if
this has already been posted somewhere. Much is lost in not hearing
Martha's passionate speaking style, perhaps at some point, I,
or someone else, can upload the sound file as well.)
[ The announcer's introduction, to his spliced interview, ended with an Argerich quote:
"I have to tell you that when I don't play Chopin for
awhile, I don't feel like a pianist." ]
"Chopin was a genius ... what can I say! He's the pianist ... the musician, pianist ... whom I would have loved the most to be able to
hear, playing. I'm so curious about his playing, much more than
anybody else, much more than Liszt, and much more than anybody else. You know? I'm so curious, I would love to see how he played, really, because of his compositions, the way he writes for the piano, which is totally different than anybody else, you know, and the way he makes the piano sound and the way he writes for the piano, .... it's totally different. The virtuosity, and of
course ... which must not be obvious, because the musical quality is
extraordinary in Chopin -- so, the virtuosity, which is tremendous because
it's terribly difficult ... it's there, but it has to be ... like an
understatement. And it has to show, I mean, it's not a show-off thing, you know. It's called a Concerto Brilliante, yes, brilliant. ... Well, but I think this is not....
(Amazing performance follows)
I... To talk about music is very difficult, what music does to one,
The first movement of this concerto, for me, is extremely passionate, and it's extremely ...... proud, and it's ...it has something...I'd say, tender, I mean, it has the whole Chopin there, for me, the first movement.
The second movement of this concerto -- I find it much more ...['not irregular'?], not so... a little bit more restrained, singing, bel canto really, but not so...
I love the Coda, though. ... Well, but that movement is terribly difficult. It's a dance, no? But, well, it's extremely difficult, pianistically, something incredibly difficult, you are never sure about it. It's very brilliant, of course ... but I'd say it's rewarding also.
You know, very often, I thought that I liked to listen, to hear, the Chopin concerto by young pianists. Yah, I think he was 20 when he did this one. Before, I used to think like that. Now I'm ... in a critical situation about
that. Well, to compare it with what, for instance, of his other pieces? OK, the Preludes, the Polonaise-Fantasie? There is already this element of, like, you know, a very beautiful poisoned flower, sometimes. There is already a little bit of it, not as much as there has been in other, yah, but there is...
I wouldn't say that in the second movement of this concerto, or the third -- but
in the first, might ...something, sometimes. For me, the first movement is the most emotionally charged. For me."
[ Nicholas Barberis' post was made to the Martha Argerich Forum.
Credit: Photo at top is from the Beppu Festival, 1999.