In one of her rare interviews, Martha Argerich is quoted as saying, “When I don’t play Chopin for awhile, I don’t feel like a pianist.”
Martha Argerich may not have specialized in Chopin to the same degree as other pianists, but her Chopin interpretations are cornerstones of her reputation as a keyboard genius.
Argerich says Chopin is the pianist whose playing she would have most loved to hear. As she told a BBC interviewer, “The way he makes the piano sound and the way he writes for the piano—it’s totally different.”
You might use the words “totally different” to describe the way Martha Argerich has approached her career. She’s long been notorious for cancelling concerts at the last minute and even stopped performing when she was in her early 20s. By then she’d already earned acclaim—first as a child prodigy in her native Argentina and then as a teenager in Europe, where she studied with a series of great teachers and won prestigious competitions. At age 23, Argerich ended her early retirement with a flourish, entering and winning the 1965 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
With other demanding repertoire, Argerich is famous for her no-holds-barred intensity. Chopin requires considerable virtuosity too, Argerich says. But she adds, “it’s not a show-off thing.” “It’s terribly difficult…but it has to be…like an understatement.” - Rachel Stewart & Don Lee