Genius at Work

Last weekend Robert and I drove from L.A. to San Francisco with one specific aim in mind- to hear Martha Argerich in concert at Symphony Hall. The last time I heard her was in London at least five years ago, and I could feel something had been missing from my life.
She has to be the most inspiring musician I have ever heard. Her capacity for combining effortless and masterful technique with an intelligent, sensitive and endlessly exploratory consciousness makes every concert an unforgetable experience.
On this occasion Martha was playing two-piano and four-hand repertoire with her old friend and colleague Nelson Freire, and they seemed very attuned to each other, alert and responsive at the keyboard. Totally in command of their instruments, they never broke a sweat, despite the virtuosic demands of the repertoire.
I was intrigued to note that I was still able to hear Martha’s distinctive tone even in compositions that were intricately woven. How to describe that tone? It combines power with sweetness and clarity, cutting through the texture like a diamond, yet never harsh.
The duo seemed genuinely pleased to be sharing their music-making with us, chatting between pieces- Martha looked more relaxed and joyful than I have ever seen her before. The occasion felt intimate and spontaneous, only slightly marred by the boomy acoustic.
The program:
Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Rachmaninov: Suite No 2
Lutoslawski: Variations on a Theme of Paganini
Schubert: Rondo in A
Ravel: La Valse
Martha is (finally) coming to L.A. in March 2006 to play Beethoven’s First Concerto under Charles Dutoit- book early if you want to catch it!

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