In the 1940s, there was a house in Buenos Aires that welcomed just about anybody who was anybody in classical music. A local amatuer musician named Ernesto Rosenthal hosted luminaries like pianist Arthur Rubinstein and violinist Adolph Busch for Friday night chamber music house concerts.
Among the local talent to play at this house were two young pianists: 7-year-old Danielito Barenboim and 8-year-old Marthita Argerich. After they’d play music for the crowd, the two would sometimes spend the night playing games together.
These two kids would go on to be considered among the great pianists of the 20th century. Though they share a hometown, their career paths rarely crossed. Their first four-hand recital didn’t happen until the 1980s.
And that was it until last year, when Barenboim suggested that he and Argerich (now both in their early 70s) reunite again for a recital in Berlin. They played some familiar material: Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D and Schubert’s Variations on an Original Theme in A flat.
But they also played Stravinsky's four-hand reduction of “The Rite of Spring,” which was completely new to Argerich. Barenboim has been one of my long-time favorite piano players, especially for the sound he gets from the instrument. But watching this video of him sitting next to Argerich during the Stravinsky makes her incredible technique very plain to see.
Check out “Piano Duos,” the new release from these old friends. You’ll need a Spotify account, which is free, to listen.