Chopin, Preludes / Nocturnes / Mazurkas / Scherzo, M. Pollini (DG, 2012)
Chopin, Box Set, M. Pollini (DG, recorded 1972-2008)
Debussy, Preludes (Book 1) / L'Isle Joyeuse, M. Pollini (DG, 1999)
2010 | 2008 | 2006 | 2004
Pollini has written about his more recent approach to the music of Chopin as being more free, less literal and straight than the technically brilliant, not at all self-indulgent approach that won him the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1960, when he was just 18 years old. He gave a wistful, introspective quality to the opening prelude (C-sharp minor, op. 45) and to the quieter of the four mazurkas of op. 33, especially the melancholy odd-numbered ones. In two ballades, the second and third, Pollini felt no need to take the poetic sections -- said to be based on Chopin's love of reciting the poetry of Adam Mickiewicz -- too slowly, while the tumultuous fast passages of no. 2, some of Chopin's most impulsive and dastardly, were gutsy and thrilling, taken fast enough and with no quarter given to be just slightly beyond technical perfection. In the third ballade, he kept even the most extravagant of the bel canto opera-inspired runs in a strictly maintained tempo. To hear these demanding passages fitted into the prevailing meter is bracing for the way one thinks about Chopin, as with the forcefully played third scherzo (C-sharp minor, op. 39), which closed the first half.
Stephen Brookes, Pianist Maurizio Pollini’s mastery is beyond reproach, but playing has little spontaneity (Washington Post, April 16)
Maurizio Pollini will repeat this program at Carnegie Hall in New York this Sunday (April 21, 3 pm).