Martha Argerich on Chopin

Martha Argerich performed the Chopin e minor concerto at the Barbican in 1999 and agreed to a short interview after the concert. Below is a transcript via Nicholas Barberis of the Martha Argerich Forums.

[  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.”  ]

So true!

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….I… To talk about music is very difficult,  what music does to one, you know…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.”

Listening to her perform the e minor concerto right now on YouTube.

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