CHOPIN FOUNDATION 
MARTHA ARGERICH/ IDA HAENDEL/ WALTER DELAHUNT
BACH/ ENESCU/ SCHUMANN/ FRANCK (11-02-07) 
MARTHA ARGERICH BRINGS UNINHIBITED PIANISM 
TO THE CHOPIN CELEBRATION


By Lawrence Budmen

The Chopin Foundation of the United States has been promoting the careers of gifted young American pianists for three decades. The organization celebrated its 30th anniversary with a benefit concert on Friday at the Lincoln Theater featuring Argentinean keyboard dynamo Martha Argerich. 

Argerichís uninhibited, spontaneous pianism is not for the faint of heart. Like her teacher Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, she is an artistic free spirit. With her impetuous, feverishly driven musicality, Argerich has long excelled in music of the romantic era. Yet her performance of a Baroque piece, Bachís Partita in C minor, was a revelation. 

She illuminated the dizzying complexity of the scoreís Baroque architecture with exquisite shades of tonal color. Her probing insight brought drama and passion to the Sarabande. In the final Capriccio, Argerichí s incisive tempos and high octane thrust produced a pianistic tour de force. Not for her, the academic, unyielding rhythmic manipulations of the period instrument movement. Argerichís Bach danced off the keyboard with lightning speed, inhabiting a veritable life force. 

The pairing of Argerich and Canadian pianist Walter Delahunt in Schumannís ruminative Andante and Variations (for two pianos) proved a mismatch. While Argerich imbued the music with impulsive lyricism, Delahuntís playing was more foursquare, emphasizing volume over introspection. 

Partnering violinist Ida Haendel in Georges Enescuís Violin Sonata No.3 in A minor, Delahunt was often at sea. Sympathetic interchanges between violin and piano were in short supply. Now in the eighth decade of a distinguished career, Haendel no longer commands the pristine technique necessary for Enescuís mix of Romanian gypsy languor and gutsy fiddle fireworks. Her tone tended toward the coarse and monochromatic. 

With Argerich at the keyboard, Haendel was more attuned to the perfumed Gallic romanticism of Cesar Franckís Violin Sonata in A Major. Although her intonation occasionally wavered, Haendel shaped the singing line of the Fantasia (third movement) beautifully and captured much of the drama of the finale. Far from providing mere accompaniment, Argerich displayed heaven storming virtuosity in a coloristic palette that connected Franckís brooding angst with the kaleidoscopic vistas of Scriabin. 


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