Martha Argerich was born on June 5, 1941 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She began studying piano at age three, and gave her first public concert – a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 – at the age of eight. In 1957, she won both the Geneva International Music Competition and the Busoni International Piano Competition, and in 1965, she won the seventh International Chopin Piano Competition, which effectively launched her concert career.
In a 2001 article for The New Yorker, Alex Ross wrote: “Argerich brings to bear qualities that are 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.”
I might add that Martha has one other quality that sets her apart: a personal modesty that is utterly charming.
This performance of Prokofiev’s magnificent Piano Concerto No. 3 was recorded live in concert in March 2008 in Turin, Italy with the RAI Orchestra conducted by Tugan Sokhiev.
Trivia note: Film buffs may remember that it was this concerto that Amy Irving played to critical acclaim in the 1980 film “The Competition”.