Martha Argerich is Still Extraordinary

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Ralph
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Martha Argerich is Still Extraordinary

Post by Ralph » Sun May 01, 2005 5:13 am

Avery Fisher Hall had no empty seats last night as Martha Argerich joined guest conductor Mstislav Rostropovich and the New York Philharmonic in a Shostakovich and Prokofiev program that showed the strengths of both musicians and their compeltly involved orchestra collaborators.

Ms. Argerich is known for cancelling performances, often because of illness. Last night, however, she looked not only well but eager as she entered the stage to play the first of two pieces. It isn't that often that a renowned soloist performs two works on a program.

To stir the audience's juices Rostropovich began with Shostakovich's Festive Overture, a really rousing piece, Members of the brass section located on opposite sides of the first tier helped make this sparking work envelope the hall.

Then came the composer's Concerto No. 1 in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op. 33. I don't think DSCH had any trouble with the music critics in 1933 when this work premiered. The trumpet and piano played off each other in sparkling alternation. Principal trumpet Philip Smith showed, and not for the first time, that he can play with any top guest artist. He was great as was Ms. Argerich. A jovial piece, the orchestra seemed to really enjoy performing the concerto. A standing ovation followed.

After intermission came Prokofiev's short Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 10. Composed in 1911, this concerto demands brisk and intense playing from the pianist and Ms. Argerich didn't disappoint. Again a standing ovation.

Concluding the concert was Prokofiev's Symphony No. 7 which strikes me as being less Slavic and more Neo-Romantic. Well performed.

Not everyone is happy with Rostropovich the Conductor but last night he was excellent.

During intermission I was walking along the hallway outside the first tier when Kurt Masur appeared before me in a tux. I said, trembling with pleasure, "Maestro, welcome back to New York." And do you know what this great conductor then said to ME, little Me of no account in the world of music? Kurt Masur said to ME, "Thank you." Isn't that incredible that he would take the time to reach out to me like that?
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Werner
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Post by Werner » Mon May 02, 2005 8:01 am

Well, you reached out to him - it was no more than returning your graciousness.

We were on the first tier, too - should have looked for you.

I agree with you about Argerich, of course. And what do you think of Slava's energy at his age? And the evident lovefest of aplause? I don't remember any recent demontration of affection like this. It felt good. And Donald noted that the average age seemed to be younger.
Werner Isler

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Mon May 02, 2005 8:12 am

Werner wrote:Well, you reached out to him - it was no more than returning your graciousness.

We were on the first tier, too - should have looked for you.

I agree with you about Argerich, of course. And what do you think of Slava's energy at his age? And the evident lovefest of aplause? I don't remember any recent demontration of affection like this. It felt good. And Donald noted that the average age seemed to be younger.
*****

Werner,

We really need to get together for dinner. Are you by any chance going to next Saturday's concert?

Rostropovich was almost bouncing on the podium and Ms. Argerich looked in excellent health.
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Bob
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Post by Bob » Mon May 02, 2005 1:30 pm

Nice review. I left Friday night's performance with virtually the same impressions you expressed. Rostropovich's energy was infectious from the moment he bounded on the stage and the Festive Overture was a terrific choice, I thought, for the opening of the program. I was fascinated when he turned to the direction of the audience, specifically toward the balcony horns when they made their entrance.

The closer, the Prokofiev 7, was a work new to me and most interesting in light of Rostro's connection with the composer, particulary when the piece was written and first performed (the conductor was living with the composer at that time in the early 1950s).

Argerich was terrific. I last heard her live during her 2001 Carnegie recital return, and was subject to her cancellation from last year's NY Phil engagement. Having followed her career closely for the past several years, I, for one, was not surprised that she appeared. I was surprised, however, that she played two concerti -- particularly these two which aren't in her "frequent" repertoire. I suspect that her evident historic and seemingly close relationship with Rostropovich contributed to her participation as the evening's concerto keynote.

The Shostakovich PC 1 is difficult to describe as a composition, particularly because of the interplay with the trumpet. Let it be agreed -- Phil Smith is terrific. The lilting, fleet finger-work and dynamic contrasts by the pianist, offset by the call and response with the trumpet and the reduced orchestra made this a most interesting work expertly performed.

Although rather short in duration, I love the Prokofiev 1 PC, and again there was no disappointment here in terms of the quality of the performance. I was a bit frustrated, however, with Avery Fisher Hall particulay in the final recapitulation of the main theme when the piano was lost in the sound of the full orchestra, despite the miking of the instrument (which, I admit, surprised me).

As an aside, I've never heard a piano concerto in AF before. Is it common to mike the piano there? Don't ever recall seeing that at Carnegie.

Bob
Last edited by Bob on Mon May 02, 2005 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Werner
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Post by Werner » Mon May 02, 2005 1:57 pm

The was not an effort to mike the piano, as far as I could see. Distributed all over the stage were lots of other microphones, placed there, I suspect, nit for sound amplification but to record the performance. Don't be surprised if a commercial recording appears one of these days.
Werner Isler

Bob
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Post by Bob » Mon May 02, 2005 2:41 pm

Werner wrote:Don't be surprised if a commercial recording appears one of these days.
Would that that were true. I hope you're right! :!:

Bob

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Post by Ralph » Mon May 02, 2005 5:37 pm

Bob wrote:
Werner wrote:Don't be surprised if a commercial recording appears one of these days.
Would that that were true. I hope you're right! :!:

Bob
*****

I'd love a recording but as far as I remember whenever a commercial recording is made of the NYP there are notices advising concertgoers to be quiet.
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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue May 10, 2005 2:05 pm

I just learned that this concert (or at least one from the 4 nights) will be broadcast on wqxr.com and wqxr-fm (96.3, NYC area) TONITE (Tues, 5/10) at 9:05 pm EST.

Bob

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Post by Ralph » Tue May 10, 2005 4:59 pm

Bob wrote:I just learned that this concert (or at least one from the 4 nights) will be broadcast on wqxr.com and wqxr-fm (96.3, NYC area) TONITE (Tues, 5/10) at 9:05 pm EST.

Bob
*****

Well I hope lots of folks listen!!!
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Werner
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Post by Werner » Tue May 10, 2005 5:57 pm

Now we kow what those mikes were there for.
Werner Isler

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Tue May 10, 2005 8:27 pm

Werner wrote:Now we kow what those mikes were there for.
*****

Yes but without the usual signs warning people to be quiet.
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Werner
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Post by Werner » Tue May 10, 2005 9:22 pm

Well, it was a pretty quiet audience as I remember it - no surprise considering the peformers.

Did any audience noises come across during the broadcast - for anyone who was lucky enough to hear it?(I didn't.)
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Bob
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Post by Bob » Wed May 11, 2005 5:07 am

I thought it was a superb broadcast, with the exception of a few, relatively minor piano volume balances during the Shostakovich PC (not Argerich but the recording) where the piano was slightly prominent or forward, compared to the rest of the work.

Audience noises didn't distract at all, to my listening, except at the end of the Shostakovich PC where one or two people "just have" to be the first to shout "Bravi" before the last note finishes breathing. It's like they just lie in wait for the moment. It's either unbridled enthusiasm or lack of self-control.

Sorry -- just a personal rant.

Bob

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Wed May 11, 2005 5:23 am

Bob wrote:I thought it was a superb broadcast, with the exception of a few, relatively minor piano volume balances during the Shostakovich PC (not Argerich but the recording) where the piano was slightly prominent or forward, compared to the rest of the work.

Audience noises didn't distract at all, to my listening, except at the end of the Shostakovich PC where one or two people "just have" to be the first to shout "Bravi" before the last note finishes breathing. It's like they just lie in wait for the moment. It's either unbridled enthusiasm or lack of self-control.

Sorry -- just a personal rant.

Bob
*****

And a justiified one too!
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

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Werner
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Post by Werner » Wed May 11, 2005 12:12 pm

This reminds me of a recital I heard by Radu Lupu some years ago. Ge's a very probing and musicianly artist - I don't remember his program, just that Inwas impressed. What I do remember is that he played for his fimal encore the final Intermzzo from Brahms' Op. 118 - a more desolate mood you can't find in music but this one - and Lupu did it full justice. And before the sound died away, som idiot in the hall yelled BRAVO!!!!Ruined the whole effect.
Werner Isler

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