Martha Argerich rang and said, will you play with me tonight?

Gabriela Montero had bought tickets to hear Martha and Maria Joao Pires play four-hand in Hamburg and had booked her flights from Barcelona. Last night at one in the morning, the phone rang. ‘Gabrielita,’ said Martha, ‘Pires has had to cancel on Wednesday night. Will you play the Schubert F Minor Fantasie with me? And could you do some improvisations?’.

Gabriela says: ‘So, that’s where I’ll be tonight. Not sitting in the audience, but sitting onstage next to my dear Martha bringing to life these gorgeous 20 minutes of other-worldly inspiration.’


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  • About nine or ten years ago, I had tickets to hear Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire at the Klavierfestival Ruhr in Essen. Mr Freire had to cancel. At what I believe was a day’s notice, the organisers phoned round and got Mischa Maisky, Renaud Capuçon, Lyda Chen and, I think, Gabrielle Shek (please forgive my poor memory) to jump in. It was an absolutely incredible evening of music-making. That Schumann quintet was one of THE most memorable chamber-music performances I have ever witnessed. And I have been attending many concerts for about 30 years. What joy! It was like a family getting together and grabbing their instruments for a spontaneous house concert. And we were the lucky ones to be there. Thank you!

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