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Martha Argerich at the 2009 Nobel Prize Concert


When something impresses me I tend to share it. This time is Martha Argerich. I might be subjective, but at this moment for me she's the best. I saw a concert live in Bucharest 2 years ago when she came at the George Enescu Festival. And also a recital, with Nelson Freire, during the same festival. She was supposed to be in Bucharest at the Festival this year playing this particular concert, but she cancelled. Sad to say but she often does it. Anyway, she's playing around the world. As I always say when talking about an artist, if you afford it, buy a ticket.
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Stockholm Concert Hall
December 8th 2009
Yuri Temirkanov - conductor
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Martha Argerich - piano
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Dmitri Shostakovich - Festive Overture, op 96
Maurice Ravel - Piano Concerto in G Major
Sergei Prokofiev - Suites 1 and 2 from "Romeo and Juliet", op 64b and 64c
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For the 2009 Nobel Prize Concert she played Ravel's concert. The entire concert was broadcasted live by Medici.tv on December 8th and now it can be watched for free on their website. You'll be asked to register. It's free and after that you can watch the entire program. See HERE. You have to trust me on this. It's worth spending one hour and half listening. And watching. It is very well filmed. The cameras focus on the piano from different angles, on Martha's eyes but also on different soloists in the orchestra. And this perfect filming is possible because there's a person next to the director who has the score in front of him/her and tells the director which instrument plays a few seconds before starting.
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The concert is amazing. Ravel had intended to debut the new concerto with himself at the piano, and in preparation, spent long hours at the piano studying the etudes of Chopin and Liszt. However, health problems led to fatigue and eventually he had to settle with conducting the orchestra at the debut. The world premiere came on January 14, 1932 with Ravel conducting the Lamoureux Orchestra and Marguerite Long (whom he dedicated this concert to) as soloist. The first North American performances were given simultaneously on the evening of April 22, 1932, by both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra at their home concert halls.
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Maurice Ravel said: The G-major Concerto took two years of work, you know. The opening theme came to me on a train between Oxford and London. But the initial idea is nothing. The work of chiseling then began. We’ve gone past the days when the composer was thought of as being struck by inspiration, feverishly scribbling down his thoughts on a scrap of paper. Writing music is seventy-five percent an intellectual activity. And to explain the jazzy influences, she also said Personally I find jazz most interesting: the rhythms, the way the melodies are handled, the melodies themselves. I have heard of George Gershwin's works and I find them intriguing
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In the third movement it doesn't seem possible at this tempo for the piano and orchestra to go together. It's so fast. But they do it. And not only they do it, but the orchestra never covers the sound of the piano. This last part is short (about 3 minutes) but it's like fireworks. Judge for yourselves. Medici.tv has a channel on YouTube. The video is uploded there.
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There is also an interview Martha gave on this occasion. She says that when Charles Dutoit debuted as conductor in Lausanne, she was playing the piano (she was 18 back then) and this was the concert she performed (Ravel's concerto). She also says that she doesn't like the idea of practicing. But once she starts, she likes it. Interesting. The interviewer askes her what she feels when playing the second movement because a lot of people consider it one of the most beautiful pieces of music. Martha replays that it dependes on the moment. There are imagies that comes to her mind so it's different each time she plays it. There is anoher question, about the bracelet she wears. She says it's a gift from a Buddhist Japanese monk and it brings her good luck.
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