Listen to Martha Argerich, aged 11

Just up on Youtube:


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  • Just absolutely incredible. Not the technique as such (although that is pretty stunning), but the musical grasp. This (unedited!!) recording could have been from a grown-up, ready artist, but only from a very major one. Most pianists today wouldn’t reach the standard of this 11-year old. WOW!!

    • Indeed, this is not something to listen to out of curiosity. It is a performance one can thoroughly enjoy and learn from.

    • I wouldn’t trust too much this being really the 11 year old MA. The noise we hear is that of a vinyl or shellac record. So did MA record at the age of 11 which was published on vinyl/shellac?
      It’s clearly not tape. The person who uploaded it says it was recorded live Nov 26 1952 in Buenos Aires.
      Unless MA confirms this, I tend to doubt this is her.

      • The spacing of the clicks confirms that it’s vinyl. Tape could have been used in the master recording, used to produce vinyl LPs.

        • The clicks don’t confirm the original recording was on tape dubbed to vinyl. Tape would not have been used for a 78rpm “master recording.” That process only came when tape succeeded shellac 78s to make vinyl discs directly. Tape has been used here to join together the two sides of a 78 disc recorded sequentially – probably from a live radio broadcast, hence the applause. Listen to the clicks between 1.24 and 1.30 (preferably with your computer plugged into a bigger speaker than its comparatively primitive internal one, which they always are). Clicks are at 78rpm. A piece this long (over 7 minutes) could never be accommodated on one side of a 78. Small wonder there’s a clumsy, well-advertised side changeover at 3.55, the half-way point. Phenomenal pianism for an 11 year old or any year old.

          • the questions are
            a) how did the Argentinian Radio record the alleged performance in 1952 in the first place? Tape?
            b) since this youtube clip clearly is sourced from a vinyl record, it must have been commercially released/pressed on vinyl. If that is the case, the recording should be catalogued and identifiable?

            I tend to believe the whole thing is a hoax.

  • Terrific performance! The clarity and natural expressiveness are uncanny, not to mention the facility. What was she playing? I’ve never heard it. It seems to cadence at the end in B-flat minor.

    • The title says “11-year-old Martha Argerich plays Mendelssohn: Caprice, Op. 33 No. 1.” I don’t know the piece, so can’t comment on whether she’s doing some strange version of it.

  • Astonishing control of her technique, which is seemingly faultless in this work. Thank God that we have had the chance to hear for a further sixty six years!

  • Assuming this isn’t some kind of Joyce Hatto stunt: it’s always amazing to hear how a true artist always sounds like him/herself from the beginning (e.g. the famous video of Yo-Yo Ma playing at the White House at age 7 — you can tell it’s Yo-Yo Ma, even if he hasn’t learned everything yet). This certainly sounds like Martha Argerich: the technical clarity, especially where there are repeated notes, the “I’m not afraid of speed — quite the contrary” (quote from a documentary) tempestuousness in the fast sections, the uncanny ability to pull back from the brink just when you think she’s going to go over the edge.

    I remember reading an interview with her where she said she and Daniel Barenboim were often trotted out as child prodigies to play at the same “ladies’ luncheon”-type events. She said he always enjoyed performing, but she used to hide in the bathroom and put wet toilet paper in her shoes, hoping to get sick so she wouldn’t have to play.

  • So wonderful to listen to this, and the trademark rhythmic vitality, fearless pianism and tender long singing lines in the opening, which would travel with her throughout her career. There’s something about Mendelssohn’s music, which fits in the hands so well, and has a visceral, youthful panache about it juxtaposing the sweet and poignant lyricism, that young musicians gravitate to very naturally. I remember playing the First Piano Concerto and many Songs Without Words at that age, remembering how much fun they were to play. Hopefully, there are more recordings from the roots of Ms. Argerich’s beginnings.

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