Schumann plays Martha Argerich

Schumann plays Martha Argerich

She is sitting there at the piano
         surounded by the orchestra
biding her time
         awaiting instructions
and what is surprising
         is the simplicity of the scene
her hair is long and entirely grey
         her clothes not in the least distracting
and she appears to be without makeup
         without the slightest artifice
sitting there delicately poised
         awaiting the command to perform
and so it begins allegro affettuoso
         as Charles Dutoit strikes up the orchestra
and Martha engages with the instrument
         but at times the piano is silent
and her body gently rocks
         from side to side following the rhythm
but still biding her time
         or should I say his time
because through her
         we feel the presence of Schumann
because she has embodied his score
         she has taken it into the depths
of her sensibility so that her hands
         have become Schumann’s hands
her mind and all her emotions
         suffused with the ardour of the notes
first played by Clara
         in representation
of the composer’s marriage
         and what we hear is indeed a marriage
between the conductor and soloist
         between both of them
and the orchestra
         because the performance
has indeed been fully orchestrated
         a melodic time capsule of emotions
in which years count for nothing
         as each note leaves its signature
on all who are present
         the great collective within the confines
of the Royal Albert Hall
         Martha the survivor
in a world of survivors
         alive in the music that never dies

John Lyons