Maurizio Pollini, classical review: 'Masterly'
Royal Festival Hall, London
Wednesday 19 February 2014
Maurizio Pollini, 72, may be one of the all-time piano greats, but he’s also famously nervy, and for much of his Southbank recital – dedicated to Claudio Abbado - he communicated his nerves to us.
After a gravely serene account of Chopin’s final Prelude, he launched into that composer’s second and third Ballades in a doggedly getting-through-it way, with the passage-work smudged and the lyricism singularly joyless.
He delivered the opening movement to Chopin’s second sonata in the same spirit, but when he reached the sweetly-singing middle section of the funeral march something seemed to click, and the music took off into a seductive dream: suddenly Pollini was playing with his old authority, and he went on deliver the sinister ‘wind over the graves’ finale with breath-taking wizardry.
The rest of his concert was sublime, with the customised Fabbrini Steinway – which had been far from ideal for Chopin – allowing him to turn Debussy’s first book of Preludes into a richly suggestive succession of tone-poems.
Many of these pieces are dialogues between the hands doing very different things far apart, and his control of shading, colour, and form was masterly.
After a standing ovation, two triumphant Chopin encores: yes, God’s still in his heaven.
Arts & Ents blogs
Never before seen personal accounts of Great War offer vivid picture of life at the Front
Neil Patrick Harris talks shooting 'robotic' Gone Girl sex scene with Rosamund Pike
Boy George: Bad karma
PonoMusic: Neil Young reaches Kickstarter target to fund new music player within a day
Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 2 Girl found in the Amazon rainforest with neighbour Grover Morales after going missing for 7 months
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor