We welcome this review by guest contributor Martin Fraenkel, from the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Chopin, Nocturnes, M. Pollini
The scheduled Schumann Allegro, op. 8, and Fantasie, op. 17, filled the first half. The impact of this passionate romanticism seemed strangely misplaced after the Schoenberg. Pollini’s well-drawn melodic lines provided some tender moments, especially in the third movement of the Fantasie. The at-times fiendishly difficult fast passages, however, rather revealed the declining powers of Pollini’s finger work. The sense that he was straining to the limit was only emphasized by his rather audible singing which broke out intermittently. One began to fear what might happen in the Fantasie’s second movement, described in Harriet Smith’s program note as a “real graveyard for pianists” and not for the “faint of heart.” In the event, Pollini hung on gamely, if no longer imperiously.
Andrew Clements, Maurizio Pollini review – glimpses of greatness amid the gloom (The Guardian, March 3)
Michael Church, Maurizio Pollini, Royal Festival Hall, classical review: Exquisitely wrought and flawlessly delivered (The Independent, March 3)
Two further Chopin encores ensued. With many members of London’s burgeoning expatriate Italian population among them, the audience was by now on its feet. One rather felt that this was a mark of a nation’s pride and gratitude, not so much for the evening but for a great career perhaps nearing its end.