LABELS: Medici Arts
WORKS: A film by Georges Gachot, Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Friedrich Gulda, Ricardo Rossi, Mauricio Vallina etc
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3073428
Martha Argerich is one of the foremost musical presences of our time and has been for over 40 years. Her virtuosity is unlimited, she is master of a huge though idiosyncratic repertoire, and her vitality is unquenched by serious illness and problems on many fronts.
To hear her talking about herself and the music she loves is a wonderful experience. But why is this DVD so short? As usual in these documentaries, the viewer’s attention span is taken to be about five minutes, and the ‘Extras’ feature turns out to consist mainly of what we saw in the main feature, a blatant rip-off.
Despite all of this, any lover of great pianism will find enormous pleasure here. We see Argerich with several of her protégés, handsome young men, playing duets and laughing.
We watch her wonderfully expressive face as she talks about her first great musical experience (hearing Arrau play Beethoven when she was five), about the agonies of being a touring artist during her late teens, her breakdown, her stage fright, her superstitions, and about the music she most loves.
The longest sequence is a rehearsal of the Schumann Piano Concerto, which she plays with ecstatic involvement, bringing the orchestra to glowing life with her absorption and dedication.
She laughs a lot, often at incongruous things, and is clearly a many-sided and endlessly fascinating woman, even apart from her genius. But there is an enormous amount of her playing recorded on video, so why are we given so measly a ration? Michael Tanner