When Martha Argerich plays piano, says Alex Ross, her “rivals become mere fans” and critics find their “well of superlatives running dry.” She combines qualities "seldom contained in one person": "brain-teasing technical agility" meets "an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music.... A lot of pianists play huge double octave, [but] few have the unerring naturalness of phrasing that allows them to embody the music rather than interpret it." Want to hear Argerich at her best? Between now and midnight, June 30th, you can enter your name in IPR's drawing for two glorious new Argerich sets. Click on this link to enter! (And while it's not required, consider donating to IPR as we approach the end of our fiscal year.) [UPDATE: Newsflash: just after we started this drawing we got news that Argerich will be one of this year's Kennedy Center Honorees, along with Mavis Staples, James Taylor, Al Pacino, and the Eagles! Congratulations!]
One set we'll give away is a first-ever issue of live recordings made right around the time Argerich won the Gold Medal at the Warsaw Competition, which is held every five years and sometimes goes for a decade without awarding a gold. She plays Mozart, Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Ravel, with what The Guardian calls “tremendous buoyancy … but superb musicianship and awareness too… and ….breathtaking tonal imagination.”
The other is a a five-CD collection of her complete Chopin (and nobody plays it better. Jed Distlerdescribes one disc as “impetuous, rhapsodic, musically loaded for bear, and pianistically uncanny").
Ross notes that Argerich combines qualities "seldom contained in one person: she is a pianist of brain-teasing technical agility; she is a charismatic woman with an enigmatic reputation; she is an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music. This last may be the quality that sets her apart. A lot of pianists play huge double octaves; a lot of pianists photograph well. But few have the unerring naturalness of phrasing that allows them to embody the music rather than interpret it."