The New York Times: Hear the Martha Argerich Recording That Inspired Yekwon Sunwoo

The New York Times
By Joshua Barone

Martha Argerich, one of the greatest pianists in the world, rarely plays in New York. But on Oct. 20, she will return to Carnegie Hall after a decade away to perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. For her younger fans, this may be the first opportunity to hear her in person.

Being a devotee of the elusive Ms. Argerich, 76, most often means being a follower of her diverse and much-adored catalog of recordings. Her albums, which have been in circulation since the 1960s, have been formative for many musicians who have come after her.

“A young pianist has to know her work,” Vikingur Olafsson, 33, said in an interview. “She has influenced my generation in ways that cannot be overestimated.”

We asked some of the most talented younger pianists (and one harpsichordist) to share and discuss their favorite Argerich recordings. Their answers — and the music — are below.

Yekwon Sunwoo
Ravel: ‘Scarbo’ from ‘Gaspard de la Nuit’

Yekwon Sunwoo, the 28-year-old South Korean pianist who won this year’s Cliburn Competition, loved Ms. Argerich’s recording of “Gaspard de la Nuit,” but then he found a video of her playing the piece.

The first movement, “Ondine,” had a “wonderful sense of singing melody while the waves never stopped with such grace — effortless,” he said. And the finale, “Scarbo,” both “evaporated into the atmosphere” and “sparkled with so many different layers of sounds.”

Mr. Sunwoo looked to Ms. Argerich’s “Scarbo” for inspiration when he learned the piece. “I particularly admired her incredible velocity over the keyboard, but with musical intentions,” he said. “I tried to create more drama and sweeping gestures like she does.”