23 August 2016
Martha Argerich appeared at the Proms this summer, with Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
Martha Argerich and her childhood friend, Daniel Barenboim, joined forces on 17 August for a much-anticipated prom. Tickets had been sold out weeks earlier. An appearance from Martha is always a rare treat - and on top of that, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has become one of the most talked about orchestras of our time.
Instead of dazzling us with exaggerated pryotechnics, Argerich decided on a more 'mellow' Liszt Concerto No 1, the highlight of which was the Quasi Adagio movement where she went into her own inner world of calm - Barenboim and the orchestra giving her all the freedom to do so. She still stunned us with her exquisite semiquaver runs and thundering double octave scales in the outer movements (it all looked so effortless too). She stood up to take her bow, smiling happily and always holding hands with Barenboim, but the audience didn't want to let her go.
And here was the treat: She returned onto the stage, with Barenboim by her side once more, and for the next 12 minutes of so, we were caught up in the intimate world of Schubert's Grand Rondo in A for piano duet. Surprisingly, Argerich took the secundo role, but they were so 'at one' that you couldn't tell who played which part. Phrasing was immaculate, there were so many subtle colour changes from the tiniest pianissimo to the sweetest mezzo forte. The hall was hushed. This was music making of the highest order.
(Photos © BBC/Chris Christodoulou)