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(This is the booklet text by Malcolm Hayes, author, and freelance writer on classical music.
Malcolm Hayes contributes to the Sunday Telegraph (London) and has recently completed an edition of William Waltons letters.) Encountering Maurizio Pollini in a private situation, one is continually taken aback by the warmth, openness and lack of affectation with which this exceptional artist, so shy in the concert hall, will entrust other people in his confidence.
Those who savour the fine details of keyboard technique will be enthralled by the vibrant, crystal-clear octave trills towards the end of the movement, and by the brilliant whirl of octave scales with which Pollini rounds out his ascent of this Himalayan peak of the piano repertory.
Meanwhile, from a broader musical perspective, this recording also constitutes a triumph of truly classical values which few other pianists today would be able to envisage, let alone encompass in performance.
(Perhaps Pollinis interest in Weberns music which presents a not dissimilar musical agenda has here inspired such memorable results.) The lively, yet not too quick tempo for the final rondo is exactly as implied by Mozarts marking of Allegro assai.
Pollinis manner is at once contained and playful, finding the right balance between classical poise and the release of feeling on which a concluding rondo of this kind insists.
(If you find the choice surprising, think of Pollinis interest in Liszts late piano pieces Unstern! W.-Venezia, La lugubre gondola music which is among the most anti-virtuosic ever composed.) Pollini delivers the first movement of Mozarts beautiful concerto with a balance of simplicity, intelligence and an engaging lack of self-consciousness which only the finest musicians seem able to achieve.More important, he said to me in an interview, is what is produced with it.The goal must always and only be that of individual expression: Expressiveness, spontaneity andintellect belong together inseparably.Pollini delivers the pianos opening flourishes of Beethovens concerto with a combination of glittering precision and thundering firepower that will satisfy the most dedicated connoisseur of keyboard pyrotechnics.The movement then proceeds at a classically brisk but not overly quick tempo, which allows for a marvellous range of light and shade.