Pianist Martha Argerich initially appears aloof in chats with music-pic maker George Gachot. But she becomes more forthcoming, a deeper humor is revealed. This compliments the wit and fire glimpsed in concert segs. Gachot has an hourlong version more suitable to tube diffusion, but pic needs the complete version to really let the artist speak.

Like its famously thorny subject, pic takes time to warm up. Pianist’s pianist Martha Argerich initially appears aloof in globetrotting chats with music-pic maker George Gachot. But she becomes more forthcoming, and a deeper humor is revealed. This compliments the wit and fire glimpsed in concert segs, both archival and new, that alternate with the palaver. Gachot has an hourlong version of “Evening Talks,” perhaps more suitable to tube diffusion, but pic — which won a UNESCO award last year and just opened in Switzerland — needs the complete version to really let the artist speak.

Helmer spent a year or so following the Argentine pianist, who cancels almost as many concerts as she completes, to talk to her between rehearsals for shows in Germany, Switzerland, France and her native Buenos Aires. Pic delves into her early connection with mentor Friedrich Gulda, and ongoing relationships with Schumann, Chopin and the other composers in which she specializes, as well as the various superstitions and panic attacks of an artist always on the road. Concert footage, taken from many sources, is still incendiary. Establishing images, of Argentina and elsewhere, seem extraneous.

Martha Argerich: Evening Talks

France - Switzerland

Production

A Cineaste/Ideale Audience Intl. production, in association with Arte France, Bayerischer Rudfunk, with support from SVT, NRK, ORF, SBS TV Australia. (International sales: Ideale Audience, Paris.) Produced by Georges Gachot, Pierre-Olivier Bardet. Directed, written by Georges Gachot.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta), Matthias Kaelin; editor, Ruth Schlaepfer; music, Beethoven, Chopin, Prokofiev, etc. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Latin Music), Oct. 8, 2003. French, English, German, Spanish dialogue. Running time: 72 MIN.

With

Martha Argerich.
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