“She plays piano the way a gazelle leaps from one crag to another, with mesmerising natural mastery.” –Ivan Hewitt, Telegraph
“ Argerich brings to bear qualities that are seldom contained in one person: she is a pianist of brainteasing technical agility; she is a charismatic woman with an enigmatic reputation; she is an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music.” –Alex Ross, New Yorker Magazine
Martha Argerich is an Argentine pianist known for her passionate performances and is one of the great virtuosi of our time. With her beautiful and emotional playing and her signature long hair, she is like a modern Franz Liszt, rockstar pianist of the 1800′s. (In fact, the reason we sit in profile at the piano is because of Liszt: he wanted his fans to see his handsome profile while he was playing concerts…talk about being a divo)!
Just like Liszt, Ms. Argerich is a forceful personality both on and off the stage. Alex Ross sums up her personal history and amazing pianistic abilities best in this following story:
Musicians have a history of falling in love with her and coming away crushed by the force of her personality. It is said that one of her amours would labor for hours over a difficult score, only to watch Argerich, a person of nocturnal habits, slouch downstairs in the middle of the afternoon, rub her eyes, and sight-read the music effortlessly.
Martha Argerich was born in Bueno Aires, Argentina on June 5, 1941. She started playing piano when she was 3 years old, and made her debut concert at 8 years old, playing a piano concerto by Mozart. Ms. Argerich has won many presitigious competitions, including the Busoni International Competition and the Chopin Piano Competition. Her formidable technique has been compared with Vladimir Horowitz. She has made such a grand impression on people, that her performances of Prokofiev Toccata and Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6, are considered the standard interpretations for these pieces. She is also famous for the many piano concerti she has performed and recorded, including favorites such as Rachmaninoff No. 3, Tchaikovsky No. 1, Ravel, Prokofiev No. 3…and the list goes on!
However, while Ms. Argerich is a proficient and noteworthy solo pianist, she is also a big proponent of chamber ensemble music. In interviews, she has said that she sometimes finds playing onstage by herself to be lonely. This is possibly what has inspired her to explore chamber ensembles, and the fun in collaborating with different instruments. Some noteworthy musicians she has collaborated with include Msitslav Rostropovich, Itzak Perlman, and Mischa Maisky.
Although she is notorious for cancelling performances at the last minute, Ms. Argerich is a pianistic force that you don’t want to miss. Her technique is awe-inspiring, and her passion and emotion makes the music (or the music behind the notes, as Horowitz would say) speak in a way that is phenomenal and unique.
Mr. Ross describes a performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto:
Then, just as the music was ready to float away to some Ravelian heaven, demonic runs rose up from the bass. The way the piano suddenly thunders under the pressure of Argerich’s small frame is a physical fact that resists explanation. It can only be described as a possession, a visitation, such as seems to happen when great singers take the stage.