My friends, this is one of my most beloved records 😉
Maurizio Pollini’s musical vision is unique. There has simply never been a pianist as direct, or playing as lucid, in the entire history of the instrument. Nor has there ever been an artist so averse to generic expressivity of any kind. In nearly ever piece he undertakes to play, Pollini manages to distill every phrase, to reduce things to their essentials.
# Composer: Frederyk Chopin
# Performer: Maurizio Pollini
# Vinyl (1972)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Format: Flac
# Label: DGG
# DR-Analysis: DR 12
# Size: 1.1 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FileFactory
Pollini’s recording of the Chopin Études is legendary, and with good reason. I imagine that Chopin, much as he envied Liszt, would have simply been astonished by the masculine energies, the sheer majesty Pollini summons from these pieces. Without calling the least attention to himself, Pollini creates a sound world so compelling that no listener can go away unmoved. That his austerity, intensity, and refusal ever to swoon has moved some listeners to think they hear a lack of musicality is not surprising, but it says much more about those listeners than about Pollini! My advice: disregard them, dive into these performances, and discover a Chopin like no other.
One of the distinct qualities of Pollini that separates him from the rest of the crowd is COMPOSURE. Pollini has the ability to nullify all the human tendencies/temptations that are destructive to the cause of pure music (fear of mistakes, inability to sustain tempo, the legitimate tensing of the hand after technically difficult passages, uneven pedalling, swallowing notes, etc….) Pollini plays the 24 Etudes with practically no mistakes (if one listens closely the only intermittent mistakes are extremely trivial to nonexistent – taking a nanosecond here and there to breathe).
The Chopin etudes are some of the most feared pieces in the piano world. Not for nothing we don’t have a complete strong recording of Rubinstein playing these.
Pollini presents a majestic, Olympian and masculine version of these pieces. His rendition in contrast to what his critics say (these critics always seem to be anonymous in nature… I would like to hear a substantive criticism of this rendition from a musicologist if possible) is emotional, just not sentimental (this draws him close to Richter). The pathos here derives from the notes themselves (and the score) and how the interplay with the other notes in a polyphonic, architectural way. These layers of sounds and the way Pollini constructs them is a manifestation of emotion through musical intelligence instead of showmanship. The HIGHEST level of emotion is when the emotion flows from the symmetry of the object itself in its most succinct, pure, and architectural form….. and exposes the nakedness of these tunes in their glory. This is analogous to breaking a multi dimensional diamond to its elements (or any very complex physical compound), like a Kaleidoscope. More specifically it is obvious that Pollini mastered each element in its own right…. the pedalling dynamics, each hand, the melodic structure, the harmonic developments. This is a much higher level of emotion than “trying” to be emotional (which is also a high level since many pianists play with little emotion). In fact, Neuhaus said similar things about Richter in his famous book on piano playing.
It is true that many pieces of Chopin are soft and fragile – the Nocturnes, the Mazurkas (these are pleasant pieces but rather simplistic at times), many of the waltzes…. The Chopin Etudes though are considered monumental to a pianist’s pianism having that explosive mixture of everything – technique, virtuosity, polar opposite emotions… and this is what makes them so hard. One has to find the balance between the technical challenges and the wonderful melodies..
I could write a book on just the amazing musical miracle that is this record. When I first heard the Etude 1 Opus 10 I had to listen to it at least 100 times consecutively (I am not kidding) to even being to fathom what Pollini does here. Pollini’s playing of the first etude is just from another planet… and this after comparing closely to Watts, Berevosky, Freire, Richter, Wild, Ohlson, Zayas, Ashkenazy, Lorte, Arrau, Lugansky, Perahia,Cherkassy (who makes some pretty notable mistakes), and Gavrilov (who plays this well also)…… Novaes, Chiu, Cziffra and Cortot ( I put these four in a separate category because their performance is absolutely unacceptable by any stretch of the imagination…I am not a diehard stickler of technique necessarily, but they play different chords and notes all together, I am not even sure they are playing Chopin at all…. a real crime against this music…. its almost laughable that people here can just “excuse” Cortot for practically making like 30-40 mistakes in one minute) and they are not even close AT ALL to Pollini. At some stage all of them either blatantly hit wrong notes or lose their cool/breath and have to hide it with pedalling/playing slower/speeding up (this is what I call the art of using rubato at times of need).
Pollini plays this grandiose – Pollini here is saying “I am the Napoleon of the piano.” Pollini brings the “hidden” tune that appears right before the descending arpeggios (in the right hand) end (and go back up afterwards) and not only illuminates this tune but also merges it with the passage in the left hand perfectly…. all with perfect pedalling – giving it a monumental/ bell ringing texture. So you have a pianist that is playing fast, plus is able to play this hidden theme ( which is three notes per arpeggio – I can’t understand how he did this (maybe he is possessed of some extraterestrial force). He is the only pianist who really has complete control of these hidden tunes. Richter does less of this and highlights the tune in the left hand more. I have even heard Richter really struggle a little bit with this etude (and he is one of the most technically brilliant pianists of all time). Its a pleasure also to hear this being played without panting, incorporating staccato like phrases, uneven pedaling and wrong notes, of course. Some of these arpeggios are unbelievably difficult. Pollini’s playing of the revolutionary etude is much better than Perahias. Perahia and Ashkenazy at times play staccato instead of legato…. and don’t accentuate the theme in the left hand….. Arrau does this also (I really don’t like his version – he incorporates this staccato like legato at times).
Now, there is a review here that criticizes Pollini for not playing piano and staccato at the a minor arpeggio. So maybe we should also not listen to Horowitz who made minor alterations of dynamics at times (this same reviewer reccommended Cortot who changes the actual NOTES). We can assume that pianists with the stature of Horowitz, Pollini, Perahia, and Richter have enough acumen to make small dynamic alterations, within reason (especially with Chopin). In fact Pollini does play this arpeggio slightly softer than the others. In addition dynamics is often a relative concept – piano is quiet RELATIVE to forte – there is no universal consent of what “quiet” is (again, within reason of course). For example, when there are two different cadenzas for a concerto and they both have different dynamics its at the pianists’ discretion to merge some ideas. Now all this in the grand scheme is ludicrous (this arpeggio lasts about 2 seconds in the span of a 50-60 minute record) but I wanted to bring this issue to light.
What makes a superstar pianist is the ability to do something that someone else cannot do (this applies to art and probably to most, if not all discplines). Do you honestly think that Pollini could not have played staccato if he wanted to? Pollini takes these pieces to terrain for beyond mere staccato-legato quandaries.
Ok enough already. There is no “opinion” involved here. The vast majority of pianists are too scared to even record this whole cycle (they like to hide behind nocturnes, mazurkas and various other concertos where they can hide behind an orchestra). From the few that have recorded the whole cycle they are rampant with either missed notes, nervousness leading to involuntary pulls/pushes in tempi, swallowing the melody, etc. (and this includes Richter who I have heard both in the BBC legends series and Richter in memoriam – and in both he sounds very nervous and makes many mistakes…… not getting even close to the level of Pollini…. and I say this being a big fan of Richter). There is no close second or room for comparison.
Please listen to #2 Opus 25 – this is the epitome of beauty and truth. No nonsense, no gimmicks…. just the pure sound of the piano. Pollini’s understanding of music is beyond what mere mortals can discuss.
This is Pollini’s gift to humanity – love it. Cherish it. Embrace it.
This is one of the best piano records ever. Period.
You will cry out to the heavens when you hear this.
(By pianoman, from Amazon)
|12 Etudes Op. 10|
|1||No. 1 C-dur: Allegro (In C Major)||1:55|
|2||No. 2 A-moll: Allegro (In A Minor)||1:25|
|3||No. 3 E-dur: Lento, Ma Non Troppo (In E Major)||3:41|
|4||No. 4 Cis-moll: Presto (In C Sharp Minor)||2:01|
|5||No. 5 Ges-dur: Vivace (In G Flat Major)||1:38|
|6||No. 6 Es-mol: Andante (In E Flat Minor)||3:08|
|7||No. 7 C-dur: Vivace (In C Major)||1:29|
|8||No. 8 F-dur: Allegro (In F Major)||2:20|
|9||No. 9 F-moll: Allegro, Molto Agitato (In F Minor)||2:05|
|10||No. 10 As-dur: Vivace Assai (In A Flat Major)||2:03|
|11||No. 11 Es-dur: Allegretto (In E Flat Major)||2:14|
|12||No. 12 C-mol: Allegro Con Fuoco (In C Minor)||2:37|
|12 Etudes Op. 25|
|13||No. 1 As-dur: Allegro Sostenuto (In A Flat Major)||2:11|
|14||No. 2 F-moll: Presto (In F Minor)||1:27|
|15||No. 3 F-dur: Allegro (In F Major)||1:51|
|16||No. 4 A-moll: Agitato (In A Minor)||1:40|
|17||No. 5 E-moll: Vivace (In E Minor)||2:54|
|18||No. 6 Gis-moll: Allegro (In G Sharp Minor)||2:02|
|19||No. 7 Cis-moll: Lento (In C Sharp Minor)||4:50|
|20||No. 8 Des-dur: Vivace (In D Flat Major)||1:04|
|21||No. 9 Ges-dur: Allegro Assai (In G Flat Major)||0:57|
|22||No. 10 H-moll: Allegro Con Fuoco (In B Minor)||3:56|
|23||No. 11 A-moll: Lento – Allegro Con Brio (In A Minor)||3:32|
|24||No. 12 C-moll: Molto Allegro, Con Fuoco (In C Minor)||2:30|———————————————————————————————-
Analyzed folder: /Volumes/HD Music/ Classical Publishing/96kFrCh_24Et_Pol/96k Chopin – 24 Etudes – Pollini
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR11 -2.56 dB -16.27 dB A1 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 1 C-dur- Allegro.wav
DR12 -5.74 dB -22.93 dB A2 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 2 a-moll- Allegro.wav
DR12 -1.80 dB -20.01 dB A3 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 3 E-dur- Lento, Ma Non Troppo.wav
DR12 -1.20 dB -16.41 dB A4 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 4 cis-moll- Presto.wav
DR12 -4.45 dB -21.22 dB A5 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 5 Ges-dur- Vivace.wav
DR17 -4.37 dB -26.86 dB A6 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 6 es-moll- Andante.wav
DR13 -4.22 dB -21.73 dB A7 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 7 C-dur- Vivace.wav
DR12 -4.28 dB -20.59 dB A8 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 8 F-dur- Allegro.wav
DR12 -3.11 dB -21.99 dB A9 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 9 f-moll- Allegro, Molto Agitato.wav
DR11 -3.44 dB -19.29 dB A10 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 10 As-dur- Vivace Assai.wav
DR13 -4.73 dB -22.47 dB A11 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 11 Es-dur- Allegretto.wav
DR13 -1.26 dB -16.95 dB A12 Etude Op. 10 Nr. 12 c-moll- Allegro Con Fuoco.wav
DR10 -5.69 dB -20.82 dB B1 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 1 As-dur- Allegro Sostenuto.wav
DR11 -6.45 dB -21.95 dB B2 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 2 f-moll- Presto.wav
DR11 -4.81 dB -20.65 dB B3 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 3 F-dur- Allegro.wav
DR14 -4.49 dB -22.64 dB B4 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 4 a-moll- Agitato.wav
DR12 -2.37 dB -20.42 dB B5 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 5 e-moll- Vivace.wav
DR10 -3.23 dB -18.83 dB B6 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 6 gis-moll- Allegro.wav
DR15 -3.56 dB -25.63 dB B7 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 7 cis-moll- Lento.wav
DR10 -1.78 dB -19.65 dB B8 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 8 Des-dur- Vivace.wav
DR12 -3.83 dB -20.89 dB B9 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 9 Ges-dur- Allegro Assai.wav
DR11 -0.79 dB -17.12 dB B10 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 10 h-moll- Allegro Con Fuoco.wav
DR12 -1.10 dB -15.56 dB B11 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 11 a-moll- Lento – Allegro Con Brio.wav
DR10 -2.31 dB -15.36 dB B12 Etude Op. 25 Nr. 12 c-moll- Molto Allegro, Con Fuoco.wav
Number of files: 24
Official DR value: DR12
- Composed By – Frederic Chopin*
- Engineer [Recording] – Heinz Wildhagen
- Liner Notes [English Translation] – Martin Cooper (5)
- Liner Notes [French Translation] – Jacques Fournier
- Liner Notes [German Translation] – Erdmute Rea
- Liner Notes [Italian] – Paolo Petazzi
- Photography By [Cover] – Paolo Gianbarberis
- Piano – Maurizio Pollini
- Producer, Recording Supervisor – Rainer Brock
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
- Phono amp: Pro-Ject Phono Box RS
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Vintage (1979) Luxman L-55A
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music.
Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.
I tend more and more, in the last time, to de-click with an automatic setting between 0.7 and 1.2 so you can say, my rips are like half rough rips.
- Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Very light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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