Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Brush with Genius


I met Martha Argerich last night. We were sitting in a roomful of people, and there was an argument. I maintained Argerich was the greatest pianist of the last century – better than Cliburn, Gould, Richter, and that other guy.

Turns out this was Martha’s farewell tour and final concert. She looked increasingly nervous as others discussed how the final concert should be carried out. I started getting nervous when I found out I’d be accompanying her, both on piano and tonette. I hadn’t rehearsed at all! This could ruin everything. Maybe I could just play really, really softly.

Frank Sinatra sent over a huge gift basket full of liquor, and I asked if it’s ok to have a drink before the concert. That started another argument, but I believe the upshot was no.

We got in a van to drive to the concert venue, and I noticed the lipstick was rather hastily smeared across my mouth, so I tried to wipe it off. I asked Martha, when she heard a piece on the radio, how soon did she know it was hers. She hummed Figaro, and said, “There. By the fifth note.” She said she planned to take English lessons, though I told her she spoke without an accent. “I know,” she said, “But I often have trouble finding the right word.”


Argerich plays Ravel

Argerich plays Chopin (If you're really interested, this last lets you compare her version to Horowitz's.)

38 comments:

  1. "...and that other guy." You don't even remember I'm a canine! And, I won't even begin with you on FS.

    I do know & remember Martha Stewart, I mean ArgericH. (Stewart is easier to pronounce & recall) She is one of the very best, and very, very few female pianists I'm familiar with.

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  2. It sounds like there's an even bigger story in there somewhere...

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  3. Were you eating spicy foods before bed again?

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  4. I listened to both versions, but thought they were both amazing.

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  5. Kinda bummed out this morning to find out Martha isn't my BFF.

    Her hands in the first video trump any ballet I've ever seen.

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  6. Yes - her hands are amazing to watch.

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  7. I see you've been hanging out with the "in" crowd again; if only in your dreams.

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  8. This is pretty wonderful

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUI5Iz3-7Bw

    GG

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  9. Was it spicy food, Karin, or was it Ambien?

    Check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HcKrd3K8_A

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  10. Ravel and chop in ..... interesting.

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  11. Earl, the difference between an author and a typist.

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  12. Or perhaps just between jazz and classical? I'm sure the jazzer had classical training, but I admit that although I always buy a 4-concert subscription to the LA Phil, and have seen some great pianists there during the last several years, I'm not a classical guy.

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  13. Not at all. It's just, with Argerich, her virtuosity actually informs the music.

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  14. She's lovely, KB. I had never heard of her so thanks for sharing (you really had me going in the first paragraph. Did you see the science piece on dreams? Pretty cool.).

    wv cackno

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  15. Gee. I usually dream about cinnamon toast, or leaves.

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  16. Did you really dream it or wish that you dreamed that you dreamed it?

    Seriously, do you know what triggered it?

    With or without spicy food, isn't the reality of them something? I got shot about three weeks ago (just minding my own biz, waiting to enter traffic); I still put band aids on my shoulder every morning. Maybe if I play Chopin, done by Agerich, it will finally heal.

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  17. 1) After reading the title I kept thinking you were talking about a painter.
    2) Gosh, please send out invites to these exciting gatherings
    3) I'll see your Argerich and raise you a Dinu Lipatti.
    and last of all, sheesh, now I don't have to look to Jim Svejda for recommendations, I can just ping you--

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  18. Svejda is the classic rock guy on kusc??

    I prefer early music.

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  19. She's certainly more accurate on the Polonaise than Horowitz. I ain't right somebody can play Chopin with that accuracy. And she keeps that high range in check in the chorus, even Horowitz lets it fly too loud in my opinion. But that's the fun about Chopin, once you convince your fingers to play that crazy shit - you can let it fly like a rock star, letting accuracy slip in favor of dynamics and phrasing.
    I have a bad habit of standing up in the middle of a classical concert and yelling WOOOOOO! and shaking my fist like it's Guns N Roses.

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  20. May I suggest that you stop smokin' that crack KB? Just kidding. You know I work for a classically trained pianist. If there's anything I love , it's watching and listening to someone play the piano. Oh my! I tell Michael on a regular basis that I signed on with him because I envisioned him playing for me all the while I boxed CDs, answered his email, and did his blog. Funny it's not worked out that way, but I"m campaigning now for his next orginal piece to be titled, "Ode to Virg". He's amended it to "Eau de Virg" WHATEVER!!!

    I've not watched your link but look forward to seeing it!!!
    V

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  21. Yowsah! You guys are something. Yes, the dream was real, but that was only 1/3 of it, the rest wouldn't make sense to anyone but me. (The "some guy" was Richard Goode -- Brahms. I only remembered him when I was awake.) Dinu Lipatti was new to me, Dez, but I played his Chopin Nocturne and thank you. Farmgirl, yes, but don't you think the keys come up to meet Argerich? The decision, precision of it all.

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  22. Oh wow, another. Tell us what you think, Virg.

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  23. You know what else I think about? So many of the greats had/have absolutely crushing stage fright; caused many to retire early. It is perhaps the most demanding, unforgiving art.

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  24. I fell in love with Chopin when my sister studied piano and learned the waltzes. When I took lessons I asked my teacher to let me learn the waltzes but I never got that good.

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  25. I don't believe that Sinatra bit for a minute.

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  26. I don't think I've ever dreamed of a pianist...even when I took lessons. What fun you have - although I wouldn't enjoy the pressure.
    I'm in Jacksonville Fl. for a conference with a crappy internet connection - so I'll have to see the links later. Horowitz was great for some things, my & P.'s favorite Chopin interpretations are by Van Cliburn. We saw another famous woman pianist who played best Spanish pieces - cannot remember her name but she is Spanish. Will you have to do a lot of practicing tonight? Piano practicing?

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  27. She's fabulous KB. I'll admit I switched over to her Rachmaninoff and turned it way up. GIrl you always suprise and delight us with your stuff. I can't wait to get here every day and then most days I come back for more and more.

    And I've dreamed of a lot of things.....a lot of things. Not a pianist in the bunch. It's the nutmeg I think.
    v

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  28. Okay this beats my dream from last night which somehow being employed at Disneyland by a vampire. I really should take a break from vampires. Or avoid liquor before bedtime...

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  29. I think it was a Banjo dream. At least I assumed so. I hope so. Because I don't think you put a band aid on a bullet wound.

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  30. You only put a band aid on a bullet wound if you're a politician / legislator.

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  31. You're a fascinating poppet, Hiker! I loved all of these performances ~ it's such a long time since I've listened to classical music {for want of a better label}, I hadn't realised how much I'd missed it. "It is perhaps the most demanding, unforgiving art." I concur, KB.

    Virginia, I have something else to ask you now, and it has nothing to do with macarons {for a change}!

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  32. Not sure I am keen on exposed ankle on a pianist.

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  33. Perahia?
    That was too funny, please do another. But on Frank Sinatra. Perhaps, like you were hanging at Reprise while he and Nancy cut "Something Stupid." Frank loved Nancy, but didn't have the time of day for Frank, Jr. Who was kidnapped, lost his ear. Maybe he didn't.

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  34. I'm so glad you liked it Shell. Local boy, Ken Mac, famous for Bach? I'll have to listen.

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  35. I notice no one have really asked how the “four-handed non-rehearsed chop in” concert turned out.

    So, I have to be the one. Did you play softly?

    Have a nice pre-Christmas DAY.

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  36. I am so far behind in knowing what to say about this or about your reamer... OH MY! I want to eat whatever you are eating! Great stuff, Karin. I love your writing.

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  37. You had a much more interesting weekend than me. I made soup.

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