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This album offers a fascinating comparison with Pollini’s recent Royal Festival Hall recital, which featured Chopin’s Berceuse and Mazurka Op 59/3. Live, the pianist’s frailty was obvious, but with this 2018 recording we are blissfully returned to Pollini the master Chopinist. What came across in the concert hall as pushing forwards, here on disc carries passion. The Op 56 Mazurkas are brilliantly variegated, the first intimate, the second ringing out like church bells, while the Op 55 Nocturnes whisper their secrets. The Berceuse carries the listener inexorably along, its upper two voices perfectly delineated and cantabile.

Pollini left us a magnificent Third Sonata in 1986. This is its complement: powerful, impassioned and flowing in the first movement, fleet-fingered in the scherzo and powerful in the finale. Only occasionally in the slow movement do we encounter Pollini literalism. Nevertheless, there is a lifetime’s wisdom here.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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