Photo: anonymous source at this concert

The Times, London  (Home Page)
Thanks to Hywell David for the pointer to the
article, since most U.S. folks can't access the newspaper unless
they are subscribing to the UK newspaper

There was not a spare seat to be had, and the reason lay with the woman
with tumbling hair who made her way to the piano after Ravel's 'Alborado
del Gracioso'.  With the Argentine wonder Martha Argerich the excitement
begins even before you enter the concert hall.  One part of you thinks,
" she's not going to cancel is she?"  Oh, ye of little faith! There she
was, facing Prokofiev's third piano concerto with that impulsive
imagination and lightness of touch that make her one of the most
inspiring musicians on the planet.

She was like a firefly, articulating the first movement's runs with
darting nonchalance, dappled colours and clarity, always well matched by
the quick responses of the LPO and the concert's conductor, Emmanuel
Krivine.  But this was no surface brilliance: once the movement's lights
dimmed and the speed slowed, she modulated into hushed magic, teasing out
Prokofiev's poetry with exceptional finesse and delicacy.  There was more
of this in the central theme and variations, where the andante variation,
the fourth, was spun way beyond gossamer.

Throughout, the phrasing avoided all routine caressing and scampering:
cascades arrived with odd glancing stresses; melodic lines were sometimes
pecked at with spidery fingers, other times lubricated witrh honey.  For
orchestral musicians, accompanying the unpredictable Argerich must be one
of life's great adventures, especially so when the miracle happens and
everything actually fuses.  But the LPO was in safe hands: Krivine proved
the perfect dance partner, constantly swinging round to check positions,
keeping the beat nimble. At the end his reluctance to share the applause
with Argerich was gallant but excessive: conductor and orchestra, after
all, were part of this triumph too."

The Telegraph (Full Article)
Wondrous lightness and whimsical contrasts
Ivan Hewett reviews Argerich/LPO at Festival Hall
(Excerpts from concerto portion)

... the instant she starts to play, you realise that under
the otherworldly appearance is a mental and physical grasp
and assurance that's second to none.

Argerich has the old-fashioned, aristocratic virtuosity that
makes everything look easy, the touch light yet decisive.
Equally aristocratic is the way she marries utility with
grace. Her beautiful gestures are not done for effect:
they're as essential to her musicality as her staggering
technique. All these qualities were vividly revealed in her
performance of Prokofiev's Third Concerto, a piece whose
whimsical contrasts of tenderness, virtuosity and
grotesquerie might have been made for her.

Of course, having performers of such unmanufactured charisma
is a mixed blessing for an orchestra. They certainly bring
in the punters but there's a danger that the other pieces in
the programme become the mere setting for the jewel in the
middle. Especially when, as they did on this occasion, they
come from a similar expressive world as the concerto.
. . .

Financial Times (Full Article)
Music: Martha Argerich/London Philharmonic Orchestra
By Richard Fairman
Published: March 23 2004 18:37

The applause after the concerto was almost a performance in
itself. "No thank you, not another bow," Argerich mouthed.
"Can't the orchestra go off now, please?", she whispered
into the leader's ear. "Then I won't have to bow again."

We know Martha Argerich is a reluctant performer, but her
attempts to avoid the ovation from Saturday's capacity
audience were entertaining even by her standards. How many
other pianists today inspire such devotion? Or attract so
many other celebrated pianists to their concerts?

The one safe prediction about any Argerich performance is
expect the unexpected. On Saturday she played Prokofiev's
Piano Concerto No.3, one of the few concertos that seems to
hold a place in her shrinking concert repertoire, and though
the outline of this performance may not have been very
different from those in the past, it still felt as if
Argerich was spontaneously re-creating the music phrase by

No matter how safe any passage ahead may look, her
inspiration is lying in wait to mug you round the corner. In
the middle of Prokofiev's machine-like motor rhythms a
lyrical melody will suddenly release a change of mood that
seizes one's heart. That playful solo theme midway through
the second movement sprang forth as jerky and quizzical as a
child's puppet. Then, near the end, glistening pianissimo
scales shimmered with a dangerous latent electricity.
Everywhere the voltage was turned up, the safety catches
removed. And she makes it look so easy.

Conductor Emmanuel Krivine was ready to hit the accelerator
at the flick of Argerich's wrist. He started with a brash
performance of Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso that did not
believe in understatement. Musorgsky's Pictures at an
exhibition went better, with strong and decisive
brushstrokes, though the Philharmonic alternated moments of
brilliance with missed or fluffed cues. Tel 020 7960 4242

The Guardian Full Article
Royal Festival Hall, London
Tom Service
Tuesday March 23, 2004

Pianist Martha Argerich is one of the enigmas of music. As
well as a reputation for incandescent performances, she is
infamous for her maverick approach to the conventions of the
concert hall: she is prone to last-minute cancellations, and
refuses to play encores. But, in London with the London
Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Emmanuel Krivine, she
gave a signature performance of one of her party pieces,
Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto.

From her first entry, it was clear this was no routine
interpretation. She played the first movement with a
matchless combination of accuracy and poetry, and the
fiendishly difficult runs that frame the first movement were
perfectly poised. Even at a dazzlingly fast tempo, Argerich
was in consummate control, outstripping the woodwind section
in stamina and technique.

For all its technical challenges, this concerto can seem
glib and insubstantial, but Argerich created a real range of
expression in the second movement, a set of variations on a
hauntingly simple theme. She relished the wit and the
melancholy, playing with startling delicacy and intimacy.
The finale was a riot of bravura brilliance, but the most
telling moment was a simple, bluesy melody at the heart of
the piece that Argerich played with impeccable, jazzy

Krivine and the LPO, inspired by Argerich, were sensitive
accompanists, but in the rest of the programme, they did not
reach the same heights of intensity or insight. Krivine led
them in a colourful account of Ravel's Alborada del
Gracioso, but produced a lacklustre performance of
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition that missed the
fantasy and grotesquerie of these picturesque miniatures.

Evening Standard (This is London) (Full Article)
A legendary weekend
Reviewed by Barry Millington
Evening Standard
22 March 2004

We were all there for quite another reason, however: a rare
appearance by the great Martha Argerich. Inordinately selfcritical
and irredeemably reclusive, Argerich can be lured on to the platform
only infrequently these days. Yet no one succeeds in making the
virtuoso writing of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto more incandescent.
Argerich's playing is simply mesmerising in its brilliance.

One weekend, two legends in their lifetime.
[ (Haitink the other in the weekend review.) ]

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