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Pianist cancels rare piece. Martha Argerich steps in.

May 22, 2015 by norman lebrecht

24 comments.


Daniil Trifonov has pulled out of the Kremerata Baltica’s Mieczyslaw Weinberg weekend at the Vienna Festival next month. Daniil received a summons from Valery Gergiev to play in Moscow at the opening of the Tchaikovsky Competition, of which he is the most recent winner. It’s the kind of offer you don’t refuse.

What to do? Not many famous artists will learn a new score at short notice.

Gidon Kremer made a call. ‘Luckily,’ he tells Slipped Disc, ‘Martha agreed to step in and to play with me the planned Weinberg Sonata Nr.5-one of 12 works by M.Weinberg we will perform together with Kremerata Baltica in 4 concerts at this intense Musikverein weekend on June 13/14.’

martha argerich backstage

Can anyone recall a higher-calibre substitution?


Comments (24)

  1. T-ARAFANBOY says:

    They are indeed an excellent combination for this music, this being
    not exactly a new score for Martha:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNgbKRrB5rc

    –> Seems Wiener Musikverein is the place to be, June 13/14 🙂

  2. Cardoso Peres says:

    There is a (great) recording of the Weinberg sonata No. 5 by Argerich and Kremer in the latest “Martha and Friends” disc.

  3. Rosana Martins says:

    Viva Martha! Her musical curiosity has always been extraordinary!

  4. Larry Tucker says:

    No better to play it…..or anything.

  5. Stephen Harding says:

    Welsh National Opera brought Verdi’s Falstaff on tour to Southampton in 2008 and the Falstaff who was booked for the tour was indisposed. Bryn Terfel was the replacement, having sung it before it went on tour.

  6. milka says:

    He could have wired back that he was already booked -but he bowed to political hack
    Gergiev … shows Trifonov to be a suck up to the powers to be– future audiences should
    keep that in mind , he will come running to his owners at the snap of the fingers ,just like all
    lap dogs . This is not about substitution it’s about who owns you …and poor Trifonov
    is owned by the state .

    1. not so fast says:

      It is customary for winners of competitions to go back for opening ceremonies after they win. Khozyainov just opened the Dublin competition this month. Trifonov played for Rubinstein last summer. The question of his loyalties he’s smartly avoided, refusing to talk about politics (while going on tour with Gidon Kremer), but it’s hard to condemn him just for showing up to the opening ceremonies of a competition he won. Should he have refused to take part in it in the first place? Should Menahem Pressler not be sitting on Gergiev’s jury for this competition also? What about Barry Douglas? Thomas Quasthoff? Lynn Harrel? James Ehnes? Deborah Voigt? Are they all also puppets of Putin’s state because they are taking part in the Tchaikovsky Competition?

    2. Alexandra Ivanoff says:

      She didn’t have to learn it. She played it with him on Nov. 26, 2013 in Istanbul. I heard it and reviewed it.

    3. Paul Lanfear says:

      Presumably his agent would have advised him on this? It doesn’t seem unreasonable that, as a past winner, he might have/feel some obligation to play. I really cannot see why artists should be criticised so much in this way. It makes a change for Argerich to be stepping in for somebody else!

    4. Tyler Thompson says:

      Suck up to the powers to be? Lap dog? Owned by the state? Who are you to give such definitions? Trifonov is the most recent winner of Tchaikovsky Competition and the fact that he plays at the opening of the next one only shows that he has gratitude and acknowledgement for one of the major events in his career. It is sad how some people are not able to understand responsibilities of those who’s actions do not only have repercussions on their own selves. It is easy to accuse and blame a person that, from your own narrow perspective is needed to fulfill your need for good music that you probably cannot achieve. Cynicism should not blur ones’ judgement.

    5. Rosana Martins says:

      Trifonov moved to Cleveland when he was 17 and has been living in the U.S. ever since. He currently resides in New York.
      I think it most fitting that he performs at the inaugural concert and find your rage quite misplaced.
      Martha Argerich is a great colleague, as well as being an admirer and good friends with both Kremer and Trifonov.

  7. Alexandra Ivanoff says:

    My comment was not meant to be a Reply to Milka. Sorry, I clicked on the wrong button.

  8. MacroV says:

    An interesting twist on the years of Argerich cancellations.

  9. Rosana Martins says:

    Trifonov moved to Cleveland when he was 17 and has been living in the U.S. ever since. He currently resides in New York.
    I think it most fitting that he performs at the inaugural concert and find your rage quite misplaced.
    Martha Argerich is a great colleague, as well as being an admirer and good friends with both Kremer and Trifonov.

    1. milka says:

      If Trifonov was booked for the Vienna Weinberg date and reneged because of a
      call from a political hack conductor he can be viewed as a person
      without much integrity . Considering the horrors Weinberg suffered because of
      russian anti semitism it might have been a decent act for Trifonov to honor
      Weinberg to even a small degree by keeping the Vienna date , instead he
      obediently gives his time to yet another dreary Tchaikovsky competition .He could
      have refused but that takes being a man .
      One takes consolation in that Weinbergs’ star is rising.The other russian stars
      will soon be in the dust bin of history .

      1. S. Edelberg says:

        It seems out off base such hostile comments towards Trifonov. In the course of this year Trifonov has played Weinberg several times as part of a tour with Kremer, and was also nominated for a grammy award in a CD with Kremer where he also plays Weinberg. Having been the most recent winner, it is logical that Trifonov accepted the invitation to play in the opening of such prestigious competition.

      2. not so fast says:

        It’s customary for winners of competitions to play in opening ceremonies for that competition its following season. Khozyainov just opened in Dublin. Trifonov played in Rubinstein last summer. As for the latter’s political tendencies, he’s kept quiet (while going on tour with Gidon Kremer playing Weinberg).
        Do you think we should also censure Menahem Pressler, who once fled the Nazis, for sitting on Gergiev’s jury for this upcoming Tchaikovsky Competition? Does his participation make him a supporter of Putin’s machine? What about Barry Douglas? Thomas Quasthoff? Deborah Voigt? Lynn Harrell? Are they all puppets of the Russian state?

      3. Annabelle Weidenfeld says:

        I am surprised that such ill-informed and insulting rubbish can find its way to be published on this respected and respectable website but I do not wonder that “Milka” does not like to give us her real name! Her ignorance beggars belief! Does she not know that the first prizewinner of a big international piano competition is always expected to return to perform in the opening concert of the next competition? This is a gesture of gratitude from the winner to the competition and Trifonov did exactly the same for the Rubinstein Competition where he was also first prize winner. I could site here the number of times over the years that Mr. Gergiev has tried to engage Trifonov, only to find that the pianist is already engaged elsewhere, sometimes in a small provincial town and Trifonov has always stuck to his pre-existing commitments. As Rosanna Martins points out, he moved to Cleveland to study with Babayan aged 17 and has been living in the U.S ever since. He actually did the reverse too, turning down a Gergiev offer in order to play with Kremer. In all my many years of involvement in the music profession, I have rarely come across a young artist with such integrity and as independent as Trifonov. You hit at the wrong guy Miss “Milka” and I sense that your time would be better deployed in practising your scales and your Czerny etudes to gain enough self respect to show your true identity.

      4. Zsolt Bognár says:

        Milka, your anger extends on several levels, the reasons for which are unclear. However, if you attend a single concert of Daniil Trifonov’s, every aspect of his music-making and humanity reflect deepest integrity to his projects. Artists change their itineraries all the time, and it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism or the biographies of the composers involved. Most of Trifonov’s projects do not involve Gergiev, so he cannot be dismissed as a puppet. Trifonov has championed this Weinberg piece elsewhere and has done great service to it. Daniil Trifonov is an artist who will endure because of his integrity, and unfounded accusations will fade by the wayside.

  10. Eric Koenig says:

    Thank goodness for pianists such as Argerich. She’s absolutely stunning and can give this work precisely the touch it needs.

  11. S. Edelberg says:

    It seems out off base such hostile comments towards Trifonov. In the course of this year Trifonov has played Weinberg several times as part of a tour with Kremer, and was also nominated for a grammy award in a CD with Kremer where he also plays Weinberg. Having been the most recent winner, it is logical that Trifonov accepted the invitation to play in the opening of such prestigious competition.

  12. Annabelle Weidenfeld says:

    I am surprised that such ill-informed and insulting rubbish can find its way to be published on this respected and respectable website but I do not wonder that “Milka” does not like to give us her real name! Her ignorance beggars belief! Does she not know that the first prizewinner of a big international piano competition is always expected to return to perform in the opening concert of the next competition? This is a gesture of gratitude from the winner to the competition and Trifonov did exactly the same for the Rubinstein Competition where he was also first prize winner. I could site here the number of times over the years that Mr. Gergiev has tried to engage Trifonov, only to find that the pianist is already engaged elsewhere, sometimes in a small provincial town and Trifonov has always stuck to his pre-existing commitments. As Rosanna Martins points out, he moved to Cleveland to study with Babayan aged 17 and has been living in the U.S ever since. He actually did the reverse too, turning down a Gergiev offer in order to play with Kremer. In all my many years of involvement in the music profession, I have rarely come across a young artist with such integrity and as independent as Trifonov. You hit at the wrong guy Miss “Milka” and I sense that your time would be better deployed in practising your scales and your Czerny etudes to gain enough self respect to show your true identity.

  13. Milka says:

    The Trifonov apologists it seems are out in force, their pet piano player of the day being
    brought to task . Instead of suggesting Czerny etudes one might take up the study of ethics. If the piano player was booked for the Vienna concerts it would follow that people bought tickets to hear him play on a certain date , they set time and date for him and expect him there, barring unforeseen circumstances, . . health , travel delays ..but not for him to drop his Vienna date to appear elsewhere, it shows contempt for his Vienna audience . .The master calls the lap dog comes running .In citing
    names Not So Fast conveniently overlooks a regime that to this day murders and imprisons its dissidents while waxing poetic over a dreary piano competition .They
    might look up the word integrity as might Weidenfeld .

    1. Annabelle Weidenfeld says:

      I think that our poor Milka needs to have her head examined! In spite of having it proved to her that Daniil Trifonov is no lap-dog to anyone, that he was only fulfilling a duty expected of any first prize winner in an international competition, regardless of where that competition takes place, that he has played and promoted the Weinberg Sonata many times in Europe and America with Gidon Kremer, she is still using her bitter bile to attack Mr. Trifonov on totally unfounded grounds. Where are the ethics for such monstrous behaviour? It is certainly not worth carrying on a correspondence with such a biased, warped individual who clearly has some unknown axe to grind. I also ask whether the Vienna audience would be so bitterly disappointed to have such a magnificent replacement in Martha Argerich – another colossal Trifonov “apologist” if ever there was one!


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