Prokofiev: Violin Sonata No. 2 in D major Violinist – Gidon Kremer; Pianist – Martha Argerich

David Oistrakh and Sergei Prokofiev

This post is a companion piece to my entry of September 30, 2009, in which I presented Prokofiev’s original version of this sonata, written for flute and piano.  One year following its composition, Prokofiev transcribed the flute part for violin at the urging of his friend David Oistrakh, and it is in this version that the sonata has gained its widest audience.

I came to know this piece during my freshman year at the University of Colorado, in a recording by Joseph Szigeti and Artur Balsam.  This video features Gidon Kremer, who was himself a student of Oistrakh, in a glorious collaboration with his long-time partner, Martha Argerich.

A personal note about Martha Argerich, and I am quoting here from Wikipedia:

In 1990, Argerich was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. After treatment, the cancer went into remission, but there was a re-occurrence in 1995, eventually metastasizing to her lungs and lymph nodes. Following aggressive treatment at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, which included the removal of part of her lung and use of an experimental vaccine, Argerich’s cancer went into remission again. In gratitude, Argerich performed a Carnegie Hall recital benefiting the Institute.  Once a heavy cigarette smoker, Argerich quit smoking following her treatment. As of 2010, Argerich remains cancer-free.

Let’s have a round of applause for medical science!

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 Pianist – Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich

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”.

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 6:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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