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Joined: Oct 2010
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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 wink 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


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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I saw Pollini many times in the 70’s at Carnegie Hall. I used to get front row seats keyboard side for $6. The hall was half empty then as he wasn’t well known but I knew him by his Chopin etudes and Stravinsky Petrushka/Prokofiev 7th sonata album. The latter reminded me of my 78s because was only half full per side and I never saw a modern classical music album so empty but the playing was extraordinary and still holds it’s own even today almost 50 years later. I remember one evening where he played the op 25 etudes of Chopin and early on surprised me by missing a simple stretch in the first etude which I attributed to nerves because all the rest were flawless. I never fully understood Beethoven’s op 111 until I heard him play it live.

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Just watched this thoughtfully done documentary. An insight not only to his approach to music but also an insight to the man himself.

Thank you for recommending it

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Pollini is why I play the piano. That's probably coincidence more than anything. But...he's the only pianist who evoked such powerful emotion from Wanderer Fantasy. I happened to have one recording of his version and it happened to be solo piano music that resonated with me, and then I started to play piano. Later I listened to every version I could put my hands on. None of the most recognizable professional pianists play it in that perfect way (perhaps you, reader, have a similar piece?). The closest performance I've heard was actually from someone on this board who is not a professional.

Anyways, I like his style. He's not my 'go-to' choice for most works, but I will always appreciate that he inspired me to take up the struggle, and the fleeting (if incomparable) rewards that it offers.

Last edited by hawgdriver; 06/23/20 12:19 AM.

Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
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Fascinating. Many thanks for posting!


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Originally Posted by hawgdriver
Pollini is why I play the piano. That's probably coincidence more than anything. But...he's the only pianist who evoked such powerful emotion from Wanderer Fantasy. I happened to have one recording of his version and it happened to be solo piano music that resonated with me, and then I started to play piano. Later I listened to every version I could put my hands on. None of the most recognizable professional pianists play it in that perfect way (perhaps you, reader, have a similar piece?). The closest performance I've heard was actually from someone on this board who is not a professional.
Hawgdriver - I've sent you a Private Message. smile


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