Maurizio Pollini has been criticized for the Olympian aloofness of his interpretations and his keyboard style. It's true he's no Arthur Rubinstein, who was wont to treat Chopin works as tearjerkers. Nor is he like Alfred Brendel, whose elegant mannerisms sometimes turn mawkish. He's probably closest to that other eccentric of the keyboard, Glenn Gould: he insists on picking a piece apart, then reassembling it idiosyncratically. What a listener gets from a Pollini performance is the aesthetic pleasure of hearing a movement unfold with a clarity and logic that might exceed the composer's intentions--and of course one can also be moved by his intellectual brilliance. It may be surprising to learn that Pollini launched his career by winning the Warsaw Chopin competition almost 30 years ago. For a while Chopin was prominent in his repertoire; a 1972 recording of the etudes shows Pollini to be a dazzling technician fully capable of elucidating their structures. Around that time he went briefly into retirement, then turned his attention to contemporary music--still his forte, though he also plays Beethoven and Schubert, always thoughtfully. His Chicago visit--the first in several seasons--marks a return to his roots. This Sunday's recital program is all Chopin, including Sonata no. 2. (Pollini will also be the soloist in Schumann's Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 23 and 24). Sunday, 3 PM, Symphony Center, 200 S. Michigan; 312-294-3000. TED SHEN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Gabriella Brandenstein.