Monday, August 11, 2014

Maurizio Pollini Plays Robert Schumann

This is the young Pollini in 1973 attacking two large Romantic works with as much passion and concentration as they demand. He is more impetuous than the later Pollini, and that has pluses and minuses. There is not yet a sense of mature balance — Schumann's restless, untrammeled outpouring comes at us head on. This seems in keeping with what the Sonata n° 1 and the Fantasy in C are all about, however. Neither one is a respecter of boundaries, emotionally or formally. Schumann once wrote "sonatas or fantasies (what's in a name ?)" to indicate the direction he wanted to take the sonata in. He felt that the classical sonata was outmoded— a bold stance in the early 1830s, only a few years after Beethoven's death -- but in truth it wasn't the inertness of the sonata but his own bursting romantic spirit that ruled it out. Schumann wanted freedom to express his erratic genius, not to be constrained by formal notions of development, recapitulation, and harmonic progression. (Great Schumann and not-so-great Schumann depend solely on his intuitive ability to hold a work together when its wealth of ideas threatens to make it fly apart.)
Because it is wild and Byronic, many charismatic pianists have been attracted to Schumann's spirit, and none put his stamp on the music as forcefully — one is tempted to say violently — as Horowitz before the war (his playing can be heard in one of the three installments devoted to Horowitz in the Great Pianists of the Century series on Philips). Pollini is never characterized as being akin to Horowitz, but here he comes closest to the angular, aggressive style by which the younger Horowitz seemed to shred a score apart. Audiences swooned — this was the piano used with erotomania. Pollini won't, or can't, go that far. He still keeps some part of himself to himself. But he is rhythmically free, fluid in his phrasing, and possessed of intense concentration. In the modern era only Kissin, Argerich, and Richter can compare to him — and to be frank, Richter is more commanding in the Fantasy. As for the Sonata, it doesn't sing with inspired melodies, and except for the fairly contained second movement, called an Aria, some of the music is hectic and messy. In Schumann's hands, the difference between sonatas and fantasies is that the latter are better than the former. Even for someone who loves him, ten listens to the Fantasy in C would leave one wanting more, which isn't true after two listens to the First Sonata.
In the end, I consider this CD a prelude to Pollini's incomparable recording of the Symphonic Etudes. It's certainly impressive on its own, but DG's hard piano sound makes the big outbursts not much fun to listen to.
Santa Fe Listener

Source :

Maurizio Pollini
Robert Schumann


Sonata for Piano n° 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 11
1 I. Introduzione (un poco adagio) - Allegro vivace  12:01
2 II. Aria  3:09
3 III. Scherzo e Intermezzo. Allegrissimo — Intermezzo — Tempo I  5:11
4 IV. Finale. Allegro un poco maestoso — Presto — Più allegro  11:04


Fantasia in C major, Op. 17
5 Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen  12:07
Im Legenden-Ton — Tempo primo
6 Mässig. Durchaus energisch — Etwas langsamer —  7:53
Viel bewegter
7 Langsam getragen  10:46
Durchweg leise zu halten — Etwas bewegter


Maurizio Pollini - p

Recorded at Herkules-Saal, München ; April 1973


Melanchthon said...

Steffen said...

Thank you.

Bud said...

Santa Fe Listener = hoaxer

Jaime said...

this is a marvelous recording. can you reupload in servers, other than usenet?
best and thanks in advance