Martha Argerich, an inexhaustible and always surprising soloist | Balance of the Festival

The applause, which seems inexhaustible, reverberates hot and dense in the packed room. In the center of the stage, Martha Argerich thanks. She puts her left hand to her chest, looks up, bows slightly again and again. Smile. But not much. If she even seems that she doesn’t quite understand so much noise, or some form of astonishment distracts her from the task of receiving gratitude for what she has just given. Next to him is Luis Gorelik. Every time the director takes a step back to leave her alone to her applause, she immediately catches up with him. She doesn’t want to be alone. Not even in that simple form of dance that is the greetings that follow a performance. On Saturday, at the Teatro Colón, Argerich, with Gorelik at the head of the Stable Orchestra, played the Concert nº3 Op.26 by Sergei Prokofiev. It was the big moment of the farewell night of the Argerich Festival, before the final salute with The carnival of the animalsby Camille Saint-Säens, with the participation of Annie Dutoit as narrator and Dong Hyek Lim on the other piano.

Prokofiev’s “third”, a work feared by pianists, conductors and orchestra teachers, is one of Argerich’s main concerts. The runaway inspiration of the Russian composer translates into a technically poisonous score, plagued in addition to expressive trickery; a work in which the relationship between soloist and orchestra, articulated in settings that in some sense work like a clockwork mechanism, oscillates between dialogue and discussion. Once again Argerich managed to bring so much materiality to the realm of the transcendental. Overcoming the circumstances of the mechanical and the convention of writing, the pianist achieved what few others can in this work: to sound fresh, spontaneous, plastic and, as always, extraordinarily musical.

The first movement, taken with the tempo as fast as possible for this concert, it was as beautiful as it was overwhelming. At times it even dragged the Stable in its whirlwind, with which, however, Gorelik managed to do very appreciable things right away. In particular in the second movement and in the final dithyrambic, when the director managed to do his best to get the best out of the orchestra and thus serve an inexhaustible soloist, always surprising. If at eleven she played, they say, with the maturity of the tanned, At 81, Argerich plays with the invincible transparency and liveliness of a child.

The second part of the program had another matrix, lighter if you will, but also attractive. The Carnival Openingby Antonín Dvorak, a correct meteorite on a starry night, was the prelude to The carnival of the animals. With a histrionic Dutoit as narrator, Camille Saint-Säens’s “zoological fantasy” gracefully described the succession of tortoises, elephants, chickens, hemions and swans, without forgetting those “concertivorous mammals”, the pianists. A playful moment to which Argerich, Dong, Gorelik and the successive soloists of the orchestra responded with excellent musical instinct, to raise another standing ovation at night. The final.

Thus ended another edition of the Argerich Festival. There were seven nights and one afternoon in which, under the redemptive aura of one of the great pianists of the century –this one and the one that passed– there were moments of great musical intensity and emotion. Argerich, Charles Dutoit and the Philharmonic Orchestra performing Ravel in the opening concert; the two functions with The Story of a Soldierby Igor Stravinsky –staging by Rubén Szuchmacher, musical direction by Dutoit himself and a notable cast–, preluded by Martha herself doing her Bach; the concert for two pianos by Martha and Sergei Babayan, with an ardent Prokofiev and a Mozart of complete humanity and sentimental perfection. These, and the final night, of course, are the things that will remain among the milestones that promotes an artist capable of piercing with her charisma the never well explained stereotype of “classical music public”.

The new, the classic, the exclusive

On the days of the Argerich Festival, the Colón was a different theater. More open, if the term fits. It had a partly renewed turnoutthat he could even applaud the works between movements. If for the liturgy of a certain stale plateista caste that could seem like the end, for those who listen better it can also be a “beginning”, as Mafalda said. It is essential that these large and expensive events serve the renewal of the public. The largest of the country’s music factories needs to open up to new audiences and for that it doesn’t have to give up its tradition and its essence.

On the contrary, it must reinforce them. Events like the Argerich Festival prove it. What needs to change is the idea that “classical music” is for the elite. For some time now, in the city that has a university, public by the way, which is among the 50 best in the world – a powerhouse of new audiences -, it has been seen that the traditional idea of ​​culture is at odds with that of “exclusivity” of the rich. Every day there is more evidence that those who manage capital, here and in the world, are brutes. And for worse, proud to be.

In this sense, it is timely to highlight the good reflexes of the direction of the Colón, which assumes its status as a state institution and given the low pre-sale of the concerts in which Argerich was not the direct protagonist, promoted a “last minute” promotion, with tickets at 200 pesos for those under 35 years of age. The success of the proposal meant that the same strategy was used for the lyrical recital that this Sunday afternoon was animated by the German-Canadian tenor Michael Schade and the Mendoza soprano Verónica Cangemi, within the framework of the Grandes Intérpretes cycle.

One can only hope that this ending is a good start.

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