2002 | 62′ | Language: English, French, German

Martha Argerich, Evening Talks

This is the very first portrait of one of today’s most enigmatic musical personalities: the exquisite Martha Argerich.
2002 | 62′ | Language: English, French, German

World Sales

Director

Georges Gachot

Producer

Gachot Films
Idéale Audience

Co-produced with
ARTE France
Bayerischer Rundfunk

Partner

DRS / TSR / TSI / SVT / ORF / NRK /
SBS TV Australia / ARTV

CAST

Nelson Freire
Friedrich Gulda
Geza Hosszu-Legocky
Edouardo Hubert
Ricardo Rossi
Mauricio Vallina
Württembergisches Kammerorchester, cond. Jörg Faerber

CREW

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Matthias Kälin

SOUND MIXERS
Alfred Benz
Dieter Meyer
Toine Mertens
Luc Yersin
Martin HERTEL

EDITOR
Ruth Schläpfer

ARCHIV RESEARCHER
Jacques Spohr

SOUND DESIGN & RE-RECORDING MIXER
Jürg von Allmen C.A.S.

COLORIST
Pauls Avondet – Andromeda
Christian Regenass

PRODUCTIONS MANAGERS
Gustavo Corrado
Sophie Germain

Production assistant
Gaëlle Guyader

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATION
Jean-Marc Oranger
Myriam Amroun

Awards and nominations

PRIX ITALIA 2002
Documentary on „Music and Arts“

GOLDEN PRAGUE 2002
Czech Crystal for best Documentary
Best Film, Student Jury

PREMIO ASOLO
Per La Sezione Biografia D’Artista 2003

UNESCO“CITATION MUSIQUE“
26ième Festival Intl. du Film d’Art et Pédagogique 2002

36th NEW YORK EXPOSITION
of Short Film and Video 2002, „HONORABLE MENTION „

Screenings and festivals

VISIONS DU REEL – 2002

„GOLDEN PRAGUE“ 2002 Cezch Crystal
Best Documentary; Best Film Students Jury
PRIX ITALIA 2002 „Documentary on music and the arts“
UNESCO 2002, Prix „CITATION MUSIQUE“
26ième Festival Intl. du Film d’Art et Pédagogique
PREMIO ASOLO Per La Sezione Biografia D’Artista 2003
Solothurner Filmtage 2003
Int. Film Festival in La Havane, CUBA, 2003
Film Festival in Vancouver. Canada 2003

Buenos Aires Intl. Independent Film Festival 2003 (BAFICI)
Sao Paulo Intl. Filmfestival 2005
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, USA , April, 2004
Berliner Philharmonie 18. Februar 2015
Musée des Beaux Arts, Montréal, 13 avril 2013
Washington DC, National Galerie of Art, October 12 2008
„Choc du monde de la musique“, 2008
PASTORES, AMANTES Y SUEÑOS – CINE SUIZO PARA AMERICA LATINA 2006-2008. Urugay –
Argentina – Chilie- Paraguay – Ecouador – Colombie –
MILANO, Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia 2007
Newport Beach Fi lmfestival April 25th 2005
Music Docfest 2005, Rome

Swiss-American Film Festival, New York

Festival int. du film sur l’art de Montréal 2003

Intl. competition CLASSIQUE EN IMAGE, Louvre Paris 2002

ENCOUNTERS SOUTH AFRICAN Intl. Documentary Festival 2002

Martha Argerich, Evening Talks

This is the very first portrait of one of today’s most enigmatic musical personalities: the exquisite Martha Argerich.

„…when I included Liszt and Chopin in the same programme, if the Liszt Sonata went well, then the Chopin Préludes didn’t. I used to say he must be a bit jealous. It’s my way of personalizing things a little. Prokofiev likes me a lot! He’s never played any nasty tricks on me.” Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich is the last remaining pianist of legend. A wild child and a rebel at heart, this legendary Argentinean musician is surrounded by an aura of mystery: some find her too uncompromising, others generous and beautiful, yet to all she is without doubt incredibly talented. Thanks to these „evening talks“, Georges Gachot lifts a corner of the veil: Martha Argerich shares with us her memories, confides in us her doubts, and transmits to us her incredible appetite for music making. Images of Argentina, rehearsals in the concert hall or at home, excerpts of recent concerts and archival clips complete this unique film on one of the most secretive and endearing artists of our time.

DIRECTOR’S NOTE

How can one speak of a film that is finally finished but which I had been dreaming of making for more than twenty years? A film that conjures up a picture of a woman, an artist and a pianist whose music has left an indelible mark on my life, influencing my own taste in music and nurturing my dreams as an interpreter? Why is it that certain works, such as Bach’s Partita in C minor and Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, are inextricably linked in my mind with Martha Argerich?

First of all, there was this interview – which is not an interview at all, as I do not believe that I asked her a single question. Let us, rather, call it a conversation that took place at dead of night, without a spotlight or make-up. A single “night-time conversation” recorded as if by a miracle on the magnetic tape of a camera that would then become the very heart of this film.

Martha Argerich’s words shake me to the very core of my being, reflecting as if in a mirror the unconscious thoughts that are buried deep in my mind and that I wish could have been brought to the surface much sooner. Perhaps my life would then have taken a different turn.

INTERNATIONAL PRESS

THE NEW YORK TIMES (Vivien Schweitzer)

Once-Shy Pianist Tells, Um, Not Quite All

WHEN the reclusive Argentine pianist Martha Argerich performs, her long, thick hair cascades over her shoulders, often entirely obscuring her face from the audience and affording a glimmer of privacy even onstage. 

A scene from the documentary „Martha Argerich: Evening Talks,“ which offers close-up interviews with this Argentine pianist and archival footage. Ms. Argerich, who for almost two decades gave very few solo recitals, has always felt uneasy in the spotlight offstage as well. „I just saw a program called ‚Big Brother,‘ “ she says at the beginning of „Martha Argerich: Evening Talks,“ a 2002 film by Georges Gachot. „All those exhibitionists who like their private lives filmed. Not me.“ 

But Ms. Argerich, a brilliant musician whose playing combines prodigious technique with uncanny musicality, overcame her shyness and granted Mr. Gachot a three-hour interview. It was shot one evening in 2001 between a rehearsal and a performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra in Heilbronn, Germany. 

According to the DVD booklet Mr. Gachot had been trying to obtain such an interview for more than 20 years. „Evening Talks,“ in which Ms. Argerich, 67, chats candidly in French and English, is billed as the first film about her. Intimate, close-up interview shots are interspersed with archival footage, from her teenage victory at the Geneva International Music Competition in 1957 to solo, chamber and concerto appearances as recent as 2001. 

Ms. Argerich recalls her first musical epiphany. She was 6, at a concert with her mother, listening to Claudio Arrau play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. The trills in the second movement gave her goose bumps. „I was dozing off, and suddenly,“ she says with a sharp intake of breath, experienced „an electric shock.“ Ms. Argerich refuses to play the concerto, she says, because „I’m afraid what would happen, it’s so important to me.“ 

At 9, before performing a Mozart concerto, she knelt down and thought, „If I hit one wrong note, I’ll die.“ That sense of perfection stayed with her. 

„I always doubt,“ she says. „I’m always groping. If you’re too pleased with what you’ve done, or you get into a routine, that’s the worst. Sometimes I go out on a limb, so it doesn’t happen.“

Ms. Argerich candidly recalls the crisis of loneliness she experienced in her midteens after winning both the Geneva competition and the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy. „I was terribly shy,“ she says. „It was dismal. I was in quite a state. Then when I was 19 or 20, I went through a crisis.“ She spent a few years in New York watching late-night television. 

Ms. Argerich, whose last-minute cancellations have disappointed fans, describes her first cancellation, at 17 in Florence. She was not unwell, she says, but thought she „didn’t want to play.“ So she sent a telegram to the concert organizers saying she had hurt her finger. She then took a knife and cut her finger, so „it would be true.“ The wound was so bad it also prevented her from playing a concert the next week. 

Like other legendary performers, including the cellist Pablo Casals and the pianist Vladimir Horowitz, Ms. Argerich has suffered from stage fright. „Sometimes I was in terrible panics,“ she says ruefully. „I’d imagine the worst things, imagine a full hall. It’s terrible.“ Her knees would tremble so forcibly, she says, that her feet would inadvertently bang on the floor, and she suffered chills and runny noses.

When she was young, Ms. Argerich’s nearsightedness was also problematic. She didn’t have contact lenses at the time and didn’t want to wear glasses onstage. So the piano looked „like crocodile’s teeth,“ she says, and the bright lights made her feel „like an insect.“ The film doesn’t touch on other aspects of her personal life, like her marriages to the conductor Charles Dutoit and the pianist Stephen Kovacevich, her three daughters or her recurring bouts with cancer, which began in the 1990s. 

The film offers footage of Ms. Argerich, who often laughs during the interview, performing the composers she discusses. During a rehearsal of Schumann’s Piano Concerto she vociferously argues in German with Jörg Faerber, the conductor, dismissing his suggestions.

„I prefer not to fool with Schumann,“ she says. „But I think he likes me.“ She describes performing Liszt and Chopin in the same recital: „The Liszt Sonata would be fine but not the Chopin Preludes. So I’d say, ‚He’s a little jealous.‘ “ As for Prokofiev, she says with a laugh: „He’s very fond of me. He’s never played any dirty tricks on me.“ A night owl, Ms. Argerich claims that she learned Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 by osmosis, while sleeping during the day in the same room where her roommate practiced. Daniel Barenboim once told Ms. Argerich she was „like a beautiful painting without a frame.“ This film offers fans an insightful, unguarded portrait. Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, 2008

LA NACION (Marcelo Stiletano)

Frenchman Georges Gachot and the accomplishment of the impossible interview.

“I have been working for 20 years to get a ‘yes’” says the French film-maker, Georges Gachot. What everyone wanted to know was how such an elusive star, evasive and unpredictable, had finally accepted to do what until then had never been done: speak straight forwardly and willingly to a camera about her life and her extraordinary musical prowess. “It was a miracle,” says Gachot simply and with the enthusiasm of talking about something which in any light is out of the ordinary. “Now that I am here – he adds – I can also say that it is not only a film about Martha Argerich. I realized during these past days that the film is also about Argentina, because both seem to be almost the same thing.”

There is a surprising display of rare archival material gathered from different parts of the world, ranging from the time when a very young Argerich received the First Prize at the Music Competition in Geneva, which opened up her career, until her last concert to date at the Colón, together with Nelson Freire. In the midst of the above lies the most important thing: fragments from a three-hour-long conversation between Gachot and Argerich, filmed two years ago in between a rehearsal and a concert of works by

Schumann.

“With Martha one can plan nothing, because she decides everything, always going forward, but to my surprise she accepted the dialogue, which as you witnessed takes place in sequential planes and without abrupt cuts. She opens and closes each subject with complete spontaneity”, Gachot explains. He admits that if he had to define his work in one word he would choose “honesty”. “She speaks about how she had to fight against herself and her obsession with not making mistakes. During the conversation I hadn’t any notes or script guide. We simply chatted and, in so doing, tried to capture the intimacy of someone who had never made before such confessions.”

After his conversation with Argerich, Gachot decided to complete his work by travelling to Argentina, where he filmed for three weeks. Back in Europe, he showed the pianist the finished documentary. “She had no participation in the final editing and assembly and only said: ‘If I were a Martha Argerich fan, I would love to see this movie.”

LE MONDE (Valérie Cadet)

L’expression semble désuète mais s’impose ici plus que jamais: soyez tout ouïe.

Pour le pure enchantement des morceau musicaux, la rareté de la parole, la richesse et la profondeur implicite de la confidence. Combien de points de suspension dans la conversation nocturne avec cette musicienne de génie qu’est Martha Argerich ? Combien de phrase inachevées, de mots abandonnés en suspens pour l’imaginaire de l’auditeur ? Il y a bien sûr cet accent argentin, naturellement dansant et effusif, que la rigueur du français contrarie et que le pragmatisme de l’anglais réprime. Mais surtout, ce rendez-vous médité par Georges Gachot a quelques chose de sauvage, de dérobé, d’évanescent.

MUSIC LIST IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.4, Op.58
Claudio Arrau, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink (audio only)
Piazzolla/Hubert: Libertango
Martha Argerich & Eduardo Hubert, pianos, Ricardo Rossi, percussion. Pescara, 2000
Liszt: Piano Concerto No.1
Martha Argerich, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf. Paris, 1973
Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1, Op.11
Martha Argerich, Orchestre philharmonique de l’ORTF, Franco Mannino. Paris, 1969
Beethoven: “Moonlight” Sonata, Op. 27 No. 2 – Friedrich Gulda, piano. Vienna, 1968
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op.19 – Martha Argerich, piano & conductor, London Sinfonietta. Milan, 1980
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G
Martha Argerich, Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, Charles Dutoit. Paris, 1991
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 26
Martha Argerich, London Symphony Orchestra, André Prévin. Croydon, 1977
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 – Martha Argerich, piano (aged 15). 1957 (audio only)
Chopin: Scherzo, Op. 39 No. 3 – Martha Argerich, piano. Warsaw, 1965
Bach: Partita No. 2, BWV 826: Capriccio – Martha Argerich, piano. Zurich, 2001
Schumann: Piano Concerto, Op. 54
Martha Argerich, Württembergisches Kammerorchester, Jörg Faerber. Heilbronn, 2001
Saint-Saëns: Introduction & Rondo capriccioso, Op. 28 (arr. for violin and piano)
Martha Argerich, piano, Géza Hosszu-Legocky, violin. Geneva, 2000
Dvoràk: Slavonic Dance, Op.72 No. 2
Martha Argerich, piano, Géza Hosszu-Legocky, violin. Pescara, 2000 (arr. for violin and piano)
Lutosławski: Variations on a Theme by Paganini – Martha Argerich, Mauricio Vallina, pianos. Pescara, 2000
Ravel: Ma Mère l’oye: Laideronette, Impératrice des Pagodes
Martha Argerich & Nelson Freire, piano 4 hands. Buenos Aires, 1999
Schumann: Von fremden Ländern und Menschen, Op.15 No.1 – Martha Argerich, piano. Warsaw, 1980
Prokofiev: Toccata, Op.11 – Martha Argerich, piano (audio only)

The filmaker and Martha Argerich in Zurich, 2019.

World Sales

Director

Georges Gachot

Producer

Gachot Films
Idéale Audience

Co-produced with
ARTE France
Bayerischer Rundfunk

Partner

DRS / TSR / TSI / SVT / ORF / NRK /
SBS TV Australia / ARTV

CAST

Nelson Freire
Friedrich Gulda
Geza Hosszu-Legocky
Edouardo Hubert
Ricardo Rossi
Mauricio Vallina
Württembergisches Kammerorchester, cond. Jörg Faerber

CREW

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Matthias Kälin

SOUND MIXERS
Alfred Benz
Dieter Meyer
Toine Mertens
Luc Yersin
Martin HERTEL

EDITOR
Ruth Schläpfer

ARCHIV RESEARCHER
Jacques Spohr

SOUND DESIGN & RE-RECORDING MIXER
Jürg von Allmen C.A.S.

COLORIST
Pauls Avondet – Andromeda
Christian Regenass

PRODUCTIONS MANAGERS
Gustavo Corrado
Sophie Germain

Production assistant
Gaëlle Guyader

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATION
Jean-Marc Oranger
Myriam Amroun

Awards and nominations

PRIX ITALIA 2002
Documentary on „Music and Arts“

GOLDEN PRAGUE 2002
Czech Crystal for best Documentary
Best Film, Student Jury

PREMIO ASOLO
Per La Sezione Biografia D’Artista 2003

UNESCO“CITATION MUSIQUE“
26ième Festival Intl. du Film d’Art et Pédagogique 2002

36th NEW YORK EXPOSITION
of Short Film and Video 2002, „HONORABLE MENTION „

Screenings and festivals

VISIONS DU REEL – 2002

„GOLDEN PRAGUE“ 2002 Cezch Crystal
Best Documentary; Best Film Students Jury
PRIX ITALIA 2002 „Documentary on music and the arts“
UNESCO 2002, Prix „CITATION MUSIQUE“
26ième Festival Intl. du Film d’Art et Pédagogique
PREMIO ASOLO Per La Sezione Biografia D’Artista 2003
Solothurner Filmtage 2003
Int. Film Festival in La Havane, CUBA, 2003
Film Festival in Vancouver. Canada 2003

Buenos Aires Intl. Independent Film Festival 2003 (BAFICI)
Sao Paulo Intl. Filmfestival 2005
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, USA , April, 2004
Berliner Philharmonie 18. Februar 2015
Musée des Beaux Arts, Montréal, 13 avril 2013
Washington DC, National Galerie of Art, October 12 2008
„Choc du monde de la musique“, 2008
PASTORES, AMANTES Y SUEÑOS – CINE SUIZO PARA AMERICA LATINA 2006-2008. Urugay –
Argentina – Chilie- Paraguay – Ecouador – Colombie –
MILANO, Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia 2007
Newport Beach Fi lmfestival April 25th 2005
Music Docfest 2005, Rome

Swiss-American Film Festival, New York

Festival int. du film sur l’art de Montréal 2003

Intl. competition CLASSIQUE EN IMAGE, Louvre Paris 2002

ENCOUNTERS SOUTH AFRICAN Intl. Documentary Festival 2002