Martha Argerich's concerts are always planned, but they are never guaranteed.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Concerts Season 2014-2015

© Idéale Audience, Intermezzo Films SA
After a summer break, Martha Argerich is scheduled to return to the concert platform with more intensity in the coming 2014-2015 season. As well as a highly anticipated series of concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin and Baden-Baden, she will perform with trusted colleagues and old friends such as Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Chailly and Yuri Temirkanov. Oh, and did I mention a long-awaited return to the United States? Los Angeles is the lucky American city which will get to welcome Argerich with open arms for her three performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

I have an inkling more concerts will be added in due course, but what I can reveal for now is that she will perform concertos by Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Beethoven and Haydn, as well as a recital with Gidon Kremer.

Concerts August 2014

For her much-anticipated return to her home town Buenos Aires in August, and more precisely, her comeback on the stage of the legendary Teatro Colón, Martha Argerich will perform not one, but three concerts with her chum Daniel Barenboim. The first concert will feature Beethoven's first piano concerto, while the second concert will feature both pianists as..... well, pianists. A four-hand piano programme is on the menu, with works by Mozart, Schubert and Stravinsky. For the last concert, the Argentinian comedy-musical group 'Les Luthiers' will join the pianists for a performance of works by Stravinsky and Saint-Saëns.

Concerts July 2014

The moment we had all been waiting for arrived a few days ago, in the picturesque Swiss town of Lugano. That's right. Martha Argerich played one of her trusted warhorses, the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, for the first time in 12 years to wild cheers.

This month, she is scheduled to perform the work again, and again in Switzerland. She will be the featured soloist in the opening concert of the prestigious Verbier Festival in the stunning Swiss Alp resort, with the Verbier Festival Orchestra under Charles Dutoit.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Progetto Martha Argerich 2014

10 June 2014 
Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps (arrangement for piano 4 hands) 
Martha Argerich, Akane Sakai, piano
Auditorio RSI, Lugano, Switzerland

12 June 2014
Weinberg: Violin Sonata No. 5, op. 53 
Beethoven: Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 10, op. 96 
Gidon Kremer, violin
Martha Argerich, piano
Auditorio RSI, Lugano, Switzerland

15 June 2014
Poulenc: Sonata per piano 4 hands 
Martha Argerich, Dagmar Clottu, piano
Grand Hôtel Villa Castagnola, Lugano, Switzerland

20 June 2014
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, KV 477  
Martha Argerich, piano
Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana/Alexander Vedernikov
Palazzo dei Congressi, Lugano, Switzerland

22 June 2014
Beethoven: Variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” op. 66 
Mischa Maisky, cello
Martha Argerich, piano
Auditorio RSI, Lugano, Switzerland

24 June 2014
Mussorgsky: A Night on the Bald Mountain (transcription for 2 pianos by Jura Margulis) 
Martha Argerich, Jura Margulis, pianos
Auditorio RSI, Lugano, Switzerland

26 June 2014
Dvorak: Slavonic Dances, op. 46 
Martha Argerich, Zhaniya Aubakirova, pianos
Auditorio RSI, Lugano, Switzerland

28 June 2014
Ravel: La Valse, for 2 pianos
Martha Argerich, Akiko Ebi, pianos
Auditorio RSI, Lugano, Switzerland

30 June 2014
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 23 
Martha Argerich, piano
Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana/Jacek Kaspszyk
Palazzo dei Congressi, Lugano, Switzerland

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Live webcast from Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival

Tomorrow, 24 April at 8.30pm CET, the Franco-German arts channel Arte will stream live the concert by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under conductor Emmanuel Krivine.

Martha Argerich will be the soloist in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 15.

To watch the live webcast, go to

Sunday, March 30, 2014

BREAKING: Argerich and the Berlin Philharmonic in 2015

It has been a while since Martha Argerich performed with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In April 2015, they will perform with Argerich for a one-off concert at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden, with Riccardo Chailly conducting. The work? An Argerich staple, Schumann piano concerto.

You can already book tickets for the performance here

Monday, February 24, 2014

Another Mozart-Argerich release!

This seems to be Argerich's year of Mozart, with another scheduled release scheduled for late February and mid-March, this time from the independent label Doremi.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Concerts May 2014

The citizens of the Japanese city of Beppu have been lucky for many years. Martha Argerich has played at the festival named after her since 1998, and this year she will perform in two concerts in the late spring.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Concerts April 2014

Only two performances are scheduled for the first half of 2014. Argerich will team up with her childhood friend Daniel Barenboim for a rare 4-handed afternoon outing on the stage of the Berlin Philharmonie. And a few days later, she will be in (hopefully) sunny Aix-en-Provence to play Beethoven's first piano concerto at Renaud Capuçon's new Easter festival there.

19 April 2014
4pm (note the start the time!)
MOZART: Sonata in D major KV. 448 for two pianos 
SCHUBERT: Variations on an original theme A-flat major, D. 813 for 4 hands piano 
STRAVINSKY: "Le Sacre du Printemps" (Version for 4 hands piano)
Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim, piano
Grosser Saal, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany

24 April 2014
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
Martha Argerich, piano
Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Emmanuel Krivine
Grand Théâtre de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, France

In Memoriam Claudio Abbado

The world of classical music is still mourning the loss of Claudio Abbado, who passed away at the age of 80 in Bologna on 20 January 2014. A conductor without ego, for whom music came first and foremost, he was also a dear friend of Martha Argerich. Their friendship lasted a good half century, and together they forged a musical relationship which produced many wonderful recordings and live performances ('live' in the best and truest sense of the word!).

Some of my most treasured musical memories involve Argerich and Abbado. In February 2004, I travelled to Ferrara for the first time to see their performance of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto. Indeed, many fans had gathered for this performance, as it was a one-off in more ways than one; the concert marked the first performance by Argerich of the work in over 30 years, and with Abbado as her partner, tickets sold extremely quickly.

After the first half - of chamber music by Prokofiev and other composers with Bruno Canino and members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Contrary to what the booklet of the CD that was subsequently released says - Jeremy Nicholas erroneously writes that the Beethoven concerto came in the first half of the concert) - the whole orchestra came out for the concerto in the second half of the concert, sat down, and along with them, the audience waited for the soloist and conductor to appear on the stage. Two minutes passed, with no sign of the artists. Even after five more minutes, no one seemed to appear, and the crowd, who had started murmuring quietly, were now asking themselves aloud as to whether this was going to be another 'Argerich cancellation'. Finally, I saw two figures backstage. It looked as if Argerich was nervous and fumbling behind the stage, unsure of whether to go on stage or not. Eventually Abbado physically pushed her (gently, mind you) to take her bow. As the orchestra started the initial tutti, it was obvious that she was indeed nervous to perform the work she had avoided playing for three decades. She seemed restless during the orchestral introduction and her first entry was marred by a few wrong notes at the very beginning.  But because the first movement is musically a stormy affair, her nervousness was in some ways appropriate, and the forward drive she displayed in the movement was welcome rather than bothersome.

It was in the second movement that she came into her ownArgerich is naturally a probing performer, always finding new nuances and colours to the same notes, and in this particular performance, her concentration was so intense, even by her own standards, that time literally stopped for those few minutes. I remember Abbado trying to talk to her to ease her nerves, and it seemed to have helped! The third movement was again aided by Argerich's nervous energy and restless state, and was rapturously received by the publicAfter prolonged applause and flowers thrown from the gallery, they repeated the last movement as an encore, which, in typical Argerich fashion, was faster than the first time! 

For me, the recording of that performance is also especially memorable for a personal reason. The recording is based on that single live concert (with only a few patches taken from the rehearsals recorded under studio conditions), and unusually, DG somehow decided to keep the applause intact. And that first enthusiastic shout of 'bravo!' you hear at the end of the concerto is my voice. :)

The next time I saw Argerich and Abbado together was only in 2013, but as luck would have it, they performed quite a few times. In Lucerne they performed two Mozart concerti - KV 503 in C major and KV 466 in d minor - on two evenings with the young Orchestra Mozart, and in Ferrara (and Paris, which I had to unfortunately miss) Beethoven's First Piano Concerto, with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Apart from Argerich's mercurial playing, all three performances were notable for the beautiful balance that was achieved in the orchestral part. Abbado drew out the finest colours from his musicians in the Orchestra Mozart. In the closed rehearsal I was able to attend in Lucerne, one saw that it was achieved with precision. Although Abbado was famous for being a man of few words when rehearsing - his arms, hands and baton often spoke louder than his words - the times he did speak, it was pared down to the essentials, and the musicians seemed to hang on to his every word. In the performance Beethoven concerto in Ferrara, the sound of the winds of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra mixed beautifully to that of the brass section, and it was the first time I noticed that the brasses didn't overpower the rest of the orchestra (as is unfortunately often the case) without losing their identity. 

And in these performances, there was also an unusually wistful, nostalgic quality - even the Beethoven and Mozart C major concerti - which permeated the atmosphere. At the time, I put that down to the maturity of both artists acquired through age and vast experience. No one, apart from maybe Abbado himself and the people closest to him, could have guessed that the four performances he gave with Argerich would be his last with the pianist, and among his last-ever concerts altogether (after all, he had concerts planned through 2015). In any event, the combination of Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado was a beautiful and formidable partnership, and for this one can only be thankful for the unforgettable experiences and memories. 

I certainly am.

Here are some images of the dream team through the years

Prokofiev & Ravel Sessions. Berlin, 1967  © Getty Images/Erich Auerbach

© Getty Images/Erich Auerbach
© Getty Images/Erich Auerbach
Prokofiev Sessions, Berlin, 1967 © DG/Ilse Buhs
© DG/Ilse Buhs
Chopin & Liszt Sessions, London, 1968 © Getty Images/Erich Auerbach
© Getty Images/Erich Auerbach
Berlin, ca. 1992-1993 © DG/Susesch Bayat
Beethoven session, Ferrara, 2004 © DG/Marco Caselli Nirmal
© DG/Marco Caselli Nirmal
© Marco Caselli Nirmal

© Marco Caselli Nirmal
Rome, 2011 © Marco Caselli Nirmal
Mozart sessions, Lucerne, 2013 © Lucerne Festival/Priska Ketterer
© Paul Rah
© Paul Rah
© Lucerne Festival/Priska Ketterer
© Lucerne Festival/Priska Ketterer

Grazie maestro. May you rest in peace. 
Ave atque vale.

Claudio Abbado (1933-2014)

The Mozart Album

The much-anticipated release of what turned out to be Claudio Abbado's last recording with Martha Argerich is slated for 17 February in Europe!
For those in the US, release date is expected to be on 11 March (sorry!). If you can't wait that long, pre-order it here. Otherwise click here to pre-order at the US Amazon website.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

BREAKING: Tchaikovsky Concerto July 2014

Martha Argerich is scheduled to perform the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Verbier Festival Orchestra with their Music Director, Charles Dutoit.

All I can say is, 'Wow............'