Home » Artists » Prokofiev for Two

Martha Argerich | Sergei Babayan: Bio

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires. From the age of five, she took piano lessons with Vicenzo Scaramuzza. In 1955 she went to Europe with her family, and received tuition from Friedrich Gulda in Vienna; her teachers also included Nikita Magaloff and Stefan Askenase. Following her first prizes in the piano competitions in Bolzano and Geneva in 1957, she embarked on an intensive programme of concerts. Her victory in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1965 was a decisive step on her path to worldwide recognition. 

Martha Argerich rose to fame with her interpretations of the virtuoso piano literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. But she does not regard herself as a specialist in "virtuoso" works - her repertoire ranges from Bach through Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy and Ravel, to Bartók. 

Martha Argerich has worked as a concert pianist with many famous conductors. She has also attached great importance to chamber music ever since, at the age of 17, she accompanied the violinist Joseph Szigeti - two generations older than herself. She has toured Europe, America and Japan with Gidon Kremer and Mischa Maisky and has also recorded much of the repertory for four hands and for two pianos with the pianists Nelson Freire, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, Nicolas Economou and Alexandre Rabinovitch. Martha Argerich has performed at Gidon Kremer's festival in Lockenhaus, at the Munich Piano Summer, the Lucerne Festival and at the Salzburg Festival, where she gave, for instance, a recital with Mischa Maisky in 1993. 

She appeared with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic at the 1992 New Year's Eve Concert with Strauss's Burleske and also at the Salzburg Festival at Easter 1993. May 1998 saw the long-awaited musical "summit meeting" between Martha Argerich, Mischa Maisky and Gidon Kremer. On the occasion of a memorial concert for the impresario Reinhard Paulsen, the three artists came together in Japan, where they performed piano trios by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky (recorded live by DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON). In March 2000 Martha Argerich gave her first great solo appearance in almost 20 years in New York's Carnegie Hall. 

Martha Argerich has close ties with DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON, dating back to 1967. She has recorded prolifically during this period: solo works by Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann; concerto recordings of works by Chopin, Liszt, Ravel and Prokofiev with Claudio Abbado, Beethoven with Giuseppe Sinopoli, and Stravinsky's Les Noces with Leonard Bernstein. Her recording of Shostakovich's First and Haydn's Eleventh Piano Concertos with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn conducted by Jörg Färber was crowned with the Tokyo RECORD ACADEMY AWARD in 1995 and that of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the CD COMPACT AWARD in 1997. 

She has also dedicated herself to chamber music, and has recorded works by Schumann and Chopin with Mstislav Rostropovich, and cello sonatas by both Bach and Beethoven with Mischa Maisky. She has made numerous successful recordings with Gidon Kremer, such as violin sonatas by Schumann and works by Bartók, Janácek and Messiaen (PRIX CAECILIA 1991), and Mendelssohn's concerto for violin and piano with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Their recording of Prokofiev sonatas and melodies received the 1992 Tokyo RECORD ACADEMY AWARD, the DIAPASON D'OR 1992 and the EDISON AWARD 1993. One of their most outstanding recording achievements was that of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas (Nos.1-3: RECORD ACADEMY AWARD 1985), which was concluded with the release of the Sonatas op. 47 "Kreutzer" and op. 96 in 1995. Among her more recent releases is the above-mentioned live recording of piano trios by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky with Mischa Maisky and Gidon Kremer. 

Martha Argerich takes a great supportive interest in young artists. In September 1999 the first International "Martha Argerich" Piano Competition took place in Buenos Aires - a competition which does not only carry her name but in which she is president of the jury. In November 1999 the second "Martha Argerich Music Festival" took place in southern Japan, with concerts and masterclasses being given not only by Martha Argerich but also by Mischa Maisky and Nelson Freire among others. 

 

Sergei Babayan is one of the leading pianists of our time: Hailed for his emotional intensity, bold energy and remarkable levels of color, Sergei Babayan brings a deep understanding and insight to a stylistically diverse repertoire, which includes a performance history of 60 concerts.  Le Figaro has praised his "unequaled touch, perfectly harmonious phrasing and breathtaking virtuosity." Le Devoir from Montreal put it simply: "Sergei Babayan is a genius. Period."

Sergei Babayan has collaborated with such conductors as Yuri Temirkanov, Neeme Järvi, Hans Graf, David Robertson, Tugan Sokhiev, and Dima Slobodeniouk, among others. Over the years, Babayan has performed with Valery Gergiev numerous times to great critical acclaim, including appearances at the International Festival "Stars of  the White Nights", the Moscow Easter Festival, the Barbican Centre with Mo. Gergiev conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, in St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés in Paris, at the Salzburg Festival, and at the Rotterdam Philharmonic-Gergiev Festival where Babayan was artist-in-residence.

In the 2017/18 season, Mr. Babayan's European schedule includes concert performances with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Cameristi del Teatro alla Scala, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Mariinsky Orchestra, Szczecin and Belgrade Philharmonics and the Verbier Festival Orchestra, at Daniel Barenboim's spectacular new Pierre Boulez Hall in Berlin, at Philharmonie Essen, Stuttgart Liederhalle and Wigmore Hall. With Martha Argerich, with whom he has frequently collaborated for many years, he will also appear in a number of European cities. Sergei Babayan has been regularly invited to leading festivals in Verbier and Lugano, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Edinburgh Festival and the ‘Stars of the White Nights' Festival in St. Petersburg. Mr. Babayan performs with the world's foremost orchestras, including the London Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Warsaw Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Nationale de Lille, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony.

His engagements and tours have brought him to preeminent international concert venues including Salle Gaveau in Paris, Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Warsaw Philharmony, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Herkulessaal in Munich, Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Meistersingerhalle in Nuremberg, Konzerthaus Berlin, Brahms-Saal Karlsruhe, Beethovenhalle Bonn, Rudolfinum-Dvorak Hall in Prague, Victora Hall in Geneva and many others. Mr. Babayan's performances have been broadcast by Radio France, Polish Radio and Television, BBC-TV and BBC Radio 3, NHK Satellite Television and Medici TV.

Born in Armenia into a musical family, Babayan began his studies there with Georgy Saradjev and continued at the Moscow Conservatory with Mikhail Pletnev, Vera Gornostayeva and Lev Naumov.  Following his first trip outside of the USSR in 1989, he won consecutive first prizes in several major international competitions including the Cleveland International Piano Competition, the Hamamatsu Piano Competition, and the Scottish International Piano Competition. An American citizen, he lives in New York City.

1 Prokofiev: 12 movements from Romeo and Juliet / Juliet's death  
2 Montagues and Capulets  
3 Morning Dance  
4 Quarrel  
5 Gavotte  
6 The Young Juliet (The Nurse and Romeo)  
7 Folk Dance  
8 Dance with Mandolines  
9 Aubade  
10 Dance of Five Couples  
11 Romeo and Juliet Before Departure  
12 Death of Tybalt  
13 Prokofiev: Incidental Music To Hamlet, Op. 77 - The Ghost Of Hamlet's Father  
14 Prokofiev: Incidental Music To Eugene Onegin, Op. 71 - Mazurka  
15 Polka  
16 Prokofiev: The Queen Of Spades, Op. 70 - Polonaise  
17 Prokofiev: Pushkin Waltzes, Op. 120 - Waltz No.2 In C Sharp Minor  
18 Prokofiev: War And Peace, Op. 91 - Natasha's And Andrei's Valse  
19 Prokofiev: The Queen Of Spades, Op. 70 - Idee fixe  
Martha Argerich- Sergei Babayan for a Music School on Easter Island

Pianists and longtime collaborators Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan team up for Prokofiev for Two, an album of two-piano transcriptions by Babayan of Prokofiev's music for stage and screen. Dedicated to Argerich, Prokofiev for Two features a 12-movement transcription of pieces from the Russian composer's ballet Romeo and Juliet and a seven-movement suite derived from Prokofiev's incidental music for Hamlet and Eugene Onegin, his film score for The Queen of Spades and his opera War and Peace.

Crossover Media Projects with: Martha Argerich | Sergei Babayan