In an era dominated by YouTube sensations and children in diapers playing La Campanella, and flashy young virtuosi playing flashy music deranged by themselves because the original piano pieces weren't flashy enough to elicit standing ovations, it's refreshing to be reminded of the staying power of the grey hair
and wisdom borne of decades of concentrated study and concertizing from........when they were kids in diapers playing the Hammerklavier.
When it comes to musical and pianistic intellectualism and vigour (not to mention rigour), Pollini immediately springs to mind. His fingers these days might not be as un-erring as they once were (like his teacher Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, his inability to hit wrong notes was the stuff of legends - I saw him play the Schumann Fantasie in C at least four times over four decades, but he never even came close to splitting a note in the March's treacherous coda, despite his fearless tempo), but his refusal to compromise and his disdain for charm or beauty for its own sake - extending, like Richter, to never playing any transcriptions - never left him: he is one of the few pianists whose playing is immediately recognizable and distinctive, but never for its waywardness. And who else has a rep extending from Bach to Boulez, and from Schubert to Stockhausen to Sciarrino?
I came across this rare illuminating documentary by accident, and learnt a lot about him that I didn't know before:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMpcUEVijyE