Martha’s first Carnegie Hall concert after cancer

Martha’s first Carnegie Hall concert after cancer


norman lebrecht

March 21, 2020

Our associate Max Lima has posted up the first half of a thanksgiving solo recital that Martha Argerich gave exactly 20 years ago, after receiving successful treatment in California for melanoma.

Astonishing playing.



  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I think she also had part of her lung removed, which induced her to stop smoking I believe. That is the way it should be, life should be lived fully with taking plenty of risks, and we should deal with consequences as they arise.If we leave everything in the hands of health experts we may extend our physical life a little longer, but live totally colourless lives.Why are we so fond of senile old age? By the way, one day someone should post an off- day Martha Argerich to make things less predictable.

    • TT says:

      “That is the way it should be, life should be lived fully with taking plenty of risks, and we should deal with consequences as they arise.”

      Perhaps some nuance is required? This is the same attitude expressed by youthful Spring-breakers defiant of public health recommendations in the Covid-19 pandemic. This “risk-taking” mentality results in selfishfully irresponsible behaviour, which not only endangers one’s own health, but also the health of others, and unnecessarily burdens the healthcare system, depriving others of life-saving measures.

      At any rate, risk-taking in life and risk-taking in music are not the same.

  • Olassus says:

    Her legacy is those Lugano concerts — twenty years of incredible chamber music.

  • Delphine1962 says:

    Ah, wonderful, wonderful playing; so joyous, so inspired, free and exciting and moving by turns. It has done my day so much good during this challenging time, so thatnk you, Mr Lima and Norman!

  • Sanda Schuldmann says:

    I was there! An entire group that belonged to Andrys Basten’s Martha group were there! A memorable event indeed!

    • A pianist says:

      I was there too and I remember the hype over that recital. It was her first solo foray in ages. I can’t remember any other hype like that for a pianist since Horowitz passed. It was a phenomenal concert, pure Martita and the audience was fanatical.

  • fliszt says:

    Martita, darling – for God’s sake, where’s the fire? Everything is so ridiculously fast and nonsensical. What purpose does such fantastic pianism serve when it is used to produce such dreadful music-making? This isn’t so much a serious musician’s recital as it is a circus act, and it’s simply silly.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      That has been my criticism for years now. I can always identify Argerich in ‘blind’ comparison tests; way too fast. This worked back in the 1970s and a fantastic recording I have of a recital in Concertgebouw and the work of Ginastera. Amazing!!

      Otherwise I’ve always had the impression she had an important appointment to attend after her recitals!!

      • M2N2K says:

        If the character and content of the music – emotional and otherwise – are being communicated, then it is not too fast. If a performance seems too fast to a listener, it is quite possible that that person may simply be among those who are slow listeners.

  • fliszt says:

    When the character and content of the music are being trounced upon, plowed over and buried, and the listener doesn’t mind, then that person is a watcher, not a listener.

    • M2N2K says:

      Fair enough. However, there are people including those among professional musicians who are unfortunately unable to fully appreciate either content or character of the music, even when both are communicated beautifully by a performer, if a piece is being played slightly faster than what they are used to, because they are what may be called “slow listeners” which malady is usually caused by partially closed ears.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    In this performance, Argerich ignores her interpretive responsibility to speak the composer’s message by hijacking these scores as vehicles to run a marathon. Her hell-bent-for-leather approach is certainly entertaining for her non-judgmental fans, but her victims are Bach, Chopin and Prokofiev. Yes, there are some lovely effects every now and then, but her unrelenting hysteria, aggression, and violence is largely inappropriate and tiresome.

    • M2N2K says:

      In your opinion, that is. But just this morning I had a virtual chat online with Johann Sebastian, Frédéric, Сергей Сергеевич – and all three of them told me that they enjoyed Martha Argerich’s playing in this recording very much.