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Argerich was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her paternal ancestors were Catalans based in Buenos Aires since the 18th century. Her maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire, who settled in Colonia Villa Clara in the Entre Ríos province—one of the colonies established by Baron de Hirsch and the Jewish Colonization Association. The provenance of the name Argerich is Catalonia, Spain. She started playing the piano at age three. At the age of five, she moved to teacher Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who stressed to her the importance of lyricism and feeling. Argerich gave her debut concert in 1949 at the age of eight.
The family moved to Europe in 1955, where Argerich studied with Friedrich Gulda in Austria. Juan Perón, then the president of Argentina, made their decision possible by appointing her parents to diplomatic posts in the Argentine Embassy in Vienna. She later studied with Stefan Askenase and Maria Curcio. Argerich also seized opportunities for brief periods of coaching with Madeleine Lipatti (widow of Dinu Lipatti), Abbey Simon, and Nikita Magaloff. In 1957, at sixteen, she won both the Geneva International Music Competition and the Ferruccio Busoni International Competition within three weeks of each other. It was at the latter that she met Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, whom she would later seek out for lessons during a personal artistic crisis at the age of twenty, though she only had four lessons with him in a year and a half. Her greatest influence was Gulda, with whom she studied for 18 months.
Argerich performed her debut concert at the age of 8, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor and Beethoven's First Piano Concerto in C major. Argerich rose to international prominence when she won the seventh International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1965, at age 24. In that same year, she debuted in the United States in Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series. In 1960, she had made her first commercial recording, which included works by Chopin, Brahms, Ravel, Prokofiev, and Liszt; it received critical acclaim upon its release in 1961. In 1967, she recorded Chopin's Polonaise, Op. 53.
Argerich has often remarked in interviews of feeling "lonely" on stage during solo performances. Since the 1980s, she has staged few solo performances, concentrating instead on concertos and, in particular, chamber music, and collaborating with instrumentalists in sonatas. She is noted especially for her recordings of 20th-century works by composers such as Rachmaninoff, Messiaen and Prokofiev. One notable compilation pairs Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 (recorded in December 1982 with the Radio Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the direction of Riccardo Chailly) with Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 (February 1980, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Kirill Kondrashin).Argerich is also famous for her interpretation of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3, Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, and Bach's Partita No. 2 in C minor, which she has recorded several times and continues to perform.
Argerich has also promoted younger pianists, both through her annual festival and through her appearances as a member of the jury at international competitions. The pianist Ivo Pogorelić was thrust into the musical spotlight partly as a result of Argerich's actions: after he was eliminated in the third round of the 1980 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Argerich proclaimed him a "genius" and left the jury in protest. She has supported several artists including Gabriela Montero, Mauricio Vallina, Sergio Tiempo, Gabriele Baldocci, Christopher Falzone and others.
Argerich is president of the International Piano Academy Lake Como and performs each year at the Lugano Festival. She also created and has been General Director of the Argerich Music Festival and Encounter in Beppu, Japan, since 1996. Argerich during a concert given in the Néstor Kirchner Cultural Centre, July 2015.
Her aversion to the press and publicity has resulted in her remaining out of the limelight for most of her career. Nevertheless, she is widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists of her time.
Her performance of Liszt's First Piano Concerto conducted by Daniel Barenboim at The Proms 2016 prompted this review in The Guardian: "It was an unforgettable performance. Argerich celebrated her 75th birthday in June this year, but that news doesn’t seem to have reached her fingers. Her playing is still as dazzling, as frighteningly precise, as it has always been; her ability to spin gossamer threads of melody as matchless as ever. This was unmistakably and unashamedly Liszt in the grand manner, a bit old-fashioned and sometimes even a bit vulgar at times, but in this of all concertos, with Barenboim and the orchestra following each twist and turn, every little quickening and moment of expressive reflection, it seemed entirely appropriate."
Argerich has been married three times. Her first marriage, to composer-conductor Robert Chen and with whom she had a daughter, violist Lyda Chen-Argerich, ended in 1964. From 1969 to 1973, Argerich was married to Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit, with whom she had a daughter, Annie Dutoit. Argerich continues to record and perform with Dutoit. In the 1970s she was also briefly married to pianist Stephen Kovacevich, with whom she has a daughter, Stéphanie.
In 1990, Argerich was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. After treatment, the cancer went into remission, but there was a recurrence in 1995, eventually metastasizing to her lungs and lymph nodes. Following an experimental treatment at the John Wayne cancer institute in Santa Monica pioneered by oncologist Donald Morton, Argerich's cancer went into remission again. In gratitude, Argerich performed a Carnegie Hall recital benefiting the Institute. As of 2017, Argerich remains cancer-free.
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Following the first volume of solo recordings, Vol. 2 of the Martha Argerich Collection features seven discs of the artist's treasured concerto recordings. Listeners who have not already heard the majority of these performances owe it to themselves to start now; this collection truly contains the vast majority of Argerich's most significant performances and legendary collaborations. From the cleanliness and precision of her Beethoven with Sinopoli, to the unbridled passion of her Schumann with Rostropovich, to the sheer elegance of her Ravel with Abbado, Argerich is an artist with nearly limitless technical capacity, interpretive abilities, and variety of color and tone. While all of the 16 concertos heard here are performed with the utmost in tempered musical expressiveness and precision, there are two definite standouts. Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, performed with her then-husband Charles Dutoit and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, is filled with as much power and vehemence as could ever be expected. Coupled with the surprising muscularity of Argerich's playing is a gracefully nimble touch in the concerto's rapid passagework that will capture listeners' attention from note one. Prokofiev's Third Concerto is a work with which Argerich has had a very special relationship, earning her high marks for her singular interpretation of the fiendishly difficult concerto. The recording featured here with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic is among the finest made of the piece.
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 (01+02) (flac 498mb)
Concerto No. 3 In C Major Op. 26 27:05
101 1. Andante - Allegro 9:01
102 2. Thema: Andantino - Variation I: L'istesso Tempo - Var. II: Allegro - Var. III: Allegro Moderato 9:03
103 3. Allegro Ma Non Troppo 9:01
Concerto In G Major 21:07
104 1. Allegramente 8:09
105 2. Adagio Assai 9:03
106 3. Presto 3:55
Concerto No. 1 In E Minor Op. 11 37:58
201 1. Allegro Maestoso 18:57
202 2. Romance: Larghetto 9:58
203 3. Rondo: Vivace 9:03
Concerto No. 1 In E Flat Major 17:36
204 1. Allegro Maestoso 5:09
205 2. Quasi Adagio 8:26
205 3. Allegretto Vivace - Allegro Animato
206 4. Allegretto Marziale Animato 4:01
Concerto In G Major 22:13
207 1. Allegramente 8:43
208 2. Adagio Assai 9:33
209 3. Presto 3:57
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 (01+02) (ogg 254mb)
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 (03) (flac 309mb)
Concerto No. 1 In B Flat Minor Op. 23 35:39
301 1. Allegro Non Troppo E Molto Maestoso - Allegro Con Spirito 21:16
302 2. Andante Semplice 7:31
303 3. Allegro Con Fuoco 6:52
Concerto For Violin, Piano And String Orchestra In D Minor 36:39
304 1. Allegro 18:27
305 2. Adagio 9:12
306 3. Allegro Molto 9:00
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 (03) (ogg 149mb)
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 (04+05) (flac 480mb)
Concerto In A Minor Op. 54 29:45
4-1 1. Allegro Affettuoso 14:24
4-2 2. Intermezzo: Andantino - Attacca: 5:09
4-3 3. Allegro Vivace 10:12
Concerto No. 2 In F Minor Op. 21 30:48
4-4 1. Maestoso 14:02
4-5 2. Larghetto 8:50
4-6 3. Allegro Vivace 7:56
Concerto No. 1 In C Major Op. 15 35:13
5-1 1. Allegro Con Brio 14:10
5-2 2. Largo 12:05
5-3 3. Rondo: Allegro 8:58
Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major Op. 19 30:05
5-4 1. Allegro Con Brio 14:09
5-5 2. Adagio 9:53
5-6 3. Rondo: Molto Allegro 6:03
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 (04+05) (ogg 251mb )
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 ( 06+07) (flac 535mb)
Concerto For Piano And String Orchestra Op. 35 22:43
601 1. Allegro Moderato - Attacca 6:06
602 2. Lento - Attacca 8:23
603 3. Moderato - Attacca 1:43
604 4. Allegro Con Brio 6:31
Concerto In D Major Hob.XVIII:11 18:50
605 1. Vivace 7:28
606 2. Un Poco Adagio 7:22
607 3. Rondo All'Ungarese: Allegro Assai 4:00
Concerto No. 1 In B Flat Minor Op. 23 32:11
608 1. Allegro Non Troppo E Molto Maestoso - Allegro Con Spirito 9:12
609 2. Andantino Semplice 6:30
610 3. Allegro Con Fuoco 6:19
Concerto No. 3 In C Minor Op. 37 35:42
701 1. Allegro Con Brio 16:11
702 2. Largo 10:21
703 3. Rondo: Allegro 9:10
Concerto No. 2 In B Falt Major Op. 19 28:12
704 1. Allegro Con Brio 13:20
705 2. Adagio 8:49
706 3. Rondo: Molto Allegro 6:03
Martha Argerich - The Collection 2 ( 06+07) (ogg 279mb)
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