Martha Argerich’s favourite female pianist (rare footage)

Argerich called Annie Fischer the female pianist she liked best.

You can hear why.


 

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  • Saw her in early 1980s in Boston playing Liszt B-min piano sonata. It was as pure a musical performance as I’ve seen/heard: she dressed simply in an all-black dress, walked in, bowed quickly, sat down, and played. i don’t have a critic’s vocabulary to describe her deeply-felt performance. Here was clearly a person and musician of substance and rich life experience, of the old school one might say. None of the flash, ostentation, arm-waving, hair-flaying, provocative dress and all that non-musical fluff that inflict many pianists today.

    • I’ve never forgotten that performance of the B Minor, either, Caranome. Did you get to hear her other Boston recital? I remember she came out after an uneven first half and unspooled an array of Chopin waltzes so dazzling and thoroughly captivating that even the composer himself might have envied her a bit, as he did Liszt.

    • Agreed. I remember hearing her for the first time in Boston in early ’84 and was completely mesmerized from the first notes. I went backstage after the recital to tell her of the tremendous impact her revelatory performances had on me, and the modesty with which she responded was moving. I had another chance to hear her in New York, and again, it was transformative. Her studio recordings rarely do her justice (she hated making them), but I consider her to be one of the very greatest artists in the history of the piano. For me, her recitals were life-altering events.
      The Palexa label has a release from March 9, 1984 in Montreal that was the same program she played in Boston: Mozart Piano Sonata K.332, Schubert Piano Sonata D.959, and the Schumann Carnaval.

  • Piers Lane remembering dinner in Budapest with Annie Fischer: “We went to a restaurant where all the waiters lined up and bowed to her. And, you know, that was heavy stuff for an eighteen-year-old from Brisbane.”

    • I can’t locate the source at the moment but the story goes that she turned up at EMI studios in London all ready to record one Beethoven concerto, only to be told that it was in fact another one. Apparently she dusted it down over lunch and was ready to do it in the afternoon.

  • Wow, that guy really butchered the intro! Was his first profession choice truck driver or something?
    On a more serious note, very interesting historical document from a time when technical perfection was not yet a given, and where music came first. Nowadays, technical playing quality has shot up immeasurably, but to the detriment of artistry…many a teenager can play this concerto cleaner than that lady these days, but not so many can make a more moving performance…

  • She played the Beethoven C minor concerto in Rochester when I was a student there. I remember thinking “now this is what a true master sounds like.”

    • Bruce, I was at that concert too and had the same reaction. My memory is cloudy as to who conducted the RPO. Probably David Zinman? The 1970s and1980s were good decades for having great pianists at the Eastman Theater.

      • Well hi! I’m not sure if it was Zinman or not — he left when I was a year or two into school there and was followed by Jerzy Semkow (sp?). They also had a fair number of guest conductors, very few of whom made an impression on me 😛

        I should add as a P.S. that I had never heard of Annie Fischer before that concert — I simply went because I had season tickets — so I wasn’t awed in advance by her reputation or anything. I just heard her play and thought “holy shit.”

  • An exciting performance all round! But she reminds me of Richter in this one technical respect: she splits notes in routine passages but is in full command during the really tough stuff–e.g., the E major development section and the trill-packed coda of the 1st mvt. I guess she put in the practice time where she needed to and didn’t worry about the easy stuff. (I’ve often felt the same in many of Richter’s live recordings … tho not of Chopin concerti, which I don’t believe he performed.) But, again, an exciting, big-boned performance all round!

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