Arts concert review

Have you ever been lost in a piano?

World-renowned pianist Martha Argerich graces Boston Symphony Hall with her presence

8320 argerich 534a0624 photo roberttorres
Celebrity Series of Boston presents Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia - Rome with Sir Antonio Pappano as conductor and Martha Argerich as piano soloist.
Robert Torres

Presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston
Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia — Rome
Conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano
Piano Soloist Martha Argerich
Oct. 22, 2017
Symphony Hall

The wondrous Sir Antonio Pappano greeted us with the intriguing textures of Verdi’s “Sinfonia from Aida.” The interwoven notes became overwhelming at times, but when we basked in the glow of instruments and listened, our ears grew attuned to the music, the violins brought us closer to the main event of the night. The melody graced the room lightly, then in a torrent, while the music crescendoed into bombastic phrases.

Then, brilliant Martha Argerich stepped in to thunderous applause. Argerich, originally from Buenos Aires, is recognized as one of the greatest pianists of the latter half of the 20th century. Sunday night, she joined as a piano soloist to perform Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. While Pappano guided the orchestra gracefully through, we heard the occasional river of piano notes flowing quickly; Argerich joined in with her vivacious notes that fluttered through the hall. Ever since I heard Martha Argerich’s performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, I was in awe of Argerich’s swift dexterity, and when I saw her Sunday evening, I was blown away. Argerich is a force of nature, whose piano playing engaged with the orchestra as much as the orchestra engaged with her piano, and what is incredible is how easy she made it all seem.

Occasionally, I would be lost in her music, drowning in dulcet notes that were simultaneously warm, strutting and fretting in such a way that did not feel frenetic. There is a loveliness I find in piano concertos, biased as I am by the instrument I grew up with, but I was not the only one who found joy in her talent. It comes as no surprise that Argerich’s performance led to a long, standing ovation; she reappeared twice on the stage to bow, and then returned to perform a sweet, short encore of Ravel’sEmpress of the Pagodas, Mother Goose” in a duet with the orchestra conductor.

After the intermission, Argerich’s performance still lingered in the room, and the orchestra continued the atmosphere where she left off, this time performing Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome” and “Pines of Rome,” two orchestral pieces that paint romantic, idyllic scenes through sound. Each movement of “Fountains of Rome” portrays one of Rome’s fountains at different times of day. The gentle flow of water and breeze rustling the pines could be felt and heard as the notes reverberated through the hall and resounded triumphantly to the another standing ovation. The night closed out with the orchestra’s encore, the gallant Rossini’s William Tell Overture ("Galop"), giddy and fun, because it was a triumphant night for us indeed.