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Beethoven: Sonatas Opp.7, 14 & 22

Maurizio Pollini Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £13.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Biography

Perhaps more of an advocate for contemporary music than any other major pianist essentially rooted in traditional repertory, Maurizio Pollini was born in Milan, Italy. He learned quickly and was given piano lessons from Carlo Lonati from an early age, making his public debut at the age of nine. Enrolling in the Milan Conservatory, he studied with Carlo Vidusso. In 1957 he performed a recital ... Read more in Amazon's Maurizio Pollini Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 Oct 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B00E9LEUWK
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,480 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. 1. Allegro molto e con brio
2. 2. Largo, con gran espressione
3. 3. Allegro
4. 4. Rondo (Poco allegretto e grazioso)
5. 1. Allegro
6. 2. Allegretto
7. 3. Rondo (Allegro comodo)
8. 1. Allegro
9. 2. Andante
10. 3. Scherzo (Allegro assai)
11. 1. Allegro con brio
12. 2. Adagio con molto espressione
13. 3. Menuetto
14. 4. Rondo (Allegretto)

Product Description

DGG 4778806; DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON - Germania; Classica da camera

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Refreshing Study of Old Works 1 Nov 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Mr Pollini once again proved him to be an exceptional interpreter of Beethoven. The tempo appears to be fast on first hearing, only after closer scrutiny does one realise the remarkable details interwoven into the phrasing to deliver a very refreshing perspective of these works.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Subpar 25 Oct 2013
By Quinton Fox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Over the last 36 years I have followed Maurizio Pollini's prolific career with the greatest of interest and admiration. At least 90% of his recordings are on the shelf, and I have seen him a dozen times in concert. His live Hammerklavier, Chopin Funeral March and Debussy Preludes each redefined key aspects of the art of piano playing. Thus, it pains me to conclude that Casa Pollini has moved away from its former address on top of Mount Olympus.

Let's start with the water that's left in the glass.

1) Listening to the hi res 24 bit/92 kHz file downloaded from HD tracks we get a very non-digital glare-free dynamic recording. Unfotunately "muddiness" is a keyword. And that's no good, since musical architecture, one of Pollini's major strengths, gets short shrift. The soundstage is nice and wide and has proper depth.

2) Pollini has not lost his analytical skills; everything fits together nicely; there is a feeling for the arch spanning over individual movements. I would the last to question Pollini's understanding of these works.

But, it's the resulting music that is the thing.

Now the bad news.

1) Technically Pollini is not a shadow of what he used to be. Poorly differentiated and shaky, at times sloppy passage work. A horrible approach to dynamic differentiation. Nothing between mf and fff.

2) All these contrasting themes, male or feminine, get way too little differentiation. Everything is forced into a one size fits all straight jacket. There is so much in this music that Pollini fails to express.

3) Lyricism, never a Pollini forte, is entirely absent. Just take the Opus 7 Largo marked "con gran espressione". In Pollini's hands it is as lifeless as Death Valley. And I'm afraid, I could go on, and on, and on. But let one more example suffice. The Alegretto of Op. 14, no. 1, a movement that for me carries the subtitle "the birth of Brahms": Maurizio could you be any more drab or unimaginative???

I first listened through this recital a week ago and decided to grant this giant a time out. Upon revisiting it, all that kept on popping in my head was "it must be me, since this couldn't possibly be this bad". I truly wish it were me, but opening the Paul Lewis box and comparing the works at hand just made things worse, far worse that is.

The Lewis recording is more differentiated, not to talk of the pianist. Lewis' technique is so, so much better. Far greater precision, 10 times as many dynamic levels, and colors. More importantly, the playing is so much more attuned to the fine structure of the score. Just go ahead, and compare the two slow movements mentioned above. It is just painful for Pollini fans.

Paul Lewis not your man? Let's try Kempff instead, his 1960s set "the wisdom of age". Now, that's what we call piano sound, and the Brendel admired approach to building up volume while maintaining clarity. Go ahead, and dare to compare Kempff's "across the Universe" Largo "con gran espressione" with Pollini's.

There is little doubt that this disc represents a penultimate step towards a complete Pollini Beethoven cycle. Unfortunately, shaky pianism and lack of lyric imagination result in a record that falls short of the very high standards that Pollini has set.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pollini's late assumption of these 'learner' pieces - a feast in every sense. 17 Oct 2013
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The four sonatas included in this set are less frequently performed as other more re-knowned ones by Beethoven, but they are great compositions in their respective rights nonetheless. More importantly, these pieces form the staple student repertoire, and it is important for students to savour, as they learn them, how great pianists approach them.

The No. 1 of Opus 14 has much `string quartet' character to it, being arranged by Beethoven himself into a string quartet a couple of years after its composition. Both this piece and the No. 2 of Opus 14 bore much `sturm und drang' style of the period (early Beethoven), and Josef Haydn's influence is still apparent. Both Opus 14 and Opus 7 are frequently played by piano students. Pollini's playing in this recording is both grand and subtle, direct and sophisticated, yet retaining much of the pieces' more youthful and simple aura. It is interesting that he chose to record these three pieces late in his career, and it is often said that the older the pianist, the more direct and refined the performance, and this is utterly true of Pollini here.

The No. 11, Op. 22 is a work of larger scale, if not in length, composed in 1800. The great Sviatoslav Richter performed this piece often in his lifetime, but Richter often did not have the benefit of the best instrument, which is a great pity. While this is also a student piece, the difficulty is considerably higher than the other three, and even seasoned pianists often got caught in this one. Well, good old Pollini plays this without any qualms, and sounds absolutely easy: greatness underneath apparent easiness.

In his prime years, the `Pollini sound' was considered very difficult to capture by the then recording technology, digital or otherwise. For while Pollini's finger work is absolutely top-rate, his touching could be really heavy when needed, and though he had never been considered as `bang bang' as one current famous pianist is, he had often been alluded to as being `cold', `clinical', `aloof', some thing the result of poor acoustics in his recordings. This misconception largely stemmed from the inability of technology to capture the maestro's multi-faceted as well as atmospheric tonal picture. With the advance of digital technology, we now have much improved tone-spectrum for recording piano performances, and these early Beethoven Sonatas really never sounded so mesmerizing on recording
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pollini stakes again on his uncanny technical prowess 28 Dec 2013
By P. Adrian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini has always been regarded as one of the foremost wizards of his instrument. His astounding technique entitled him to tackle the most demanding repertoires. A robust sense of structure and a lucid analytical view helped him at the same time to build impressive versions of both classical masterpieces and contemporary works. Hence, he has established himself as one of the iconic representatives of the elite super-virtuosos club in the last decades. Pollini's reputation has grown constantly since he won the supreme laurels in the prestigious Chopin international competition (Warsaw, 1960).

While his aficionados are delighted with each live appearance or new recording of Pollini's, some are even speaking about "clinical readings" when it comes to his interpretations. However, all agree that it is his fabulous technique that enthrals the audiences first, and only then some poetic insights (if the pieces favours such an approach) shimmer here and there. It is a truism: a robust sense of structure mainly takes the stage (firmly articulated in technical terms) and not a serene reverie when Maurizio Pollini plays the piano.

The question is if Pollini's qualities are convincing when advocating such thrilling works such as Beethoven sonatas for piano. The answer is "partly yes". As long as Beethoven is all about passion and turmoil, stormy hail on the keyboard and rigorous musical structures these assets of Pollini play brilliantly their parts. When the sensitivity must border on delicate soaring and lyrical tenderness, something gets odd in such a volcanic approach. Moreover, one can notice even the evolution of Pollini's style with the years. He recorded a vast amount of the 32 Beethoven's sonatas during the last two decades. In the early recordings some reflective nuances are interspersed here and there in the proceedings. Now aged 71, Maurizio Pollini seems inclined to stake on his fabulous - undiminished - technical skills only. His dynamical upsurges and obsessive rubatos lead to a somehow mechanical - austere, if not dry - result.

Plausible by itself but lacking in that mighty evocative Beethovenian power, these renditions are a new step in completing Maurizio Pollini's Beethoven recorded cycle.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sonatas aren't among the most familiar, but Pollini is in great form, and the sound is first-rate 9 Oct 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If memory serves, pollini began his Beethoven sonata cycle in the late Seventies, so it has unfolded over four decades, reaching this next-to-last album in 2013, with the pianist in his 72nd year. Except for the release of the last six sonatas, which began the cycle o LP, each program has tended to match works according to the artist's own ideas. It's hard not to feel that this one is a catch-up, since it includes no ultra-popular sonata. Here's the program:

Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, Op. 7

Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Op. 14 No. 1

Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 14 No. 2

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B flat major, Op. 22.

Richter was even more selective, choosing not to play or record quite a number of works, including Op. the Moonlight and les Adieux Sonata, but we have two live performances from him of the Sonata in E-flat Op. 7, both from 1075. richter approached the work as stormy "real" Beethoven, not a holdover from Haydn, and Pollini, although more measured and stately at times, takes the same view, especially in the first movement. This may also be the time to announce that in comparison to the hard, glassy sound that mars his late sonatas, even after a 2009 remastering for DG's Originals series, the sound on this CD is glorious. the instrument is gleaming and rich, the ambience of the Herkulessaal in Munuch breathes beautifully, and we are sitting close enough to be completely engaged. the result is so warm, both in the playing and the instrumental sound, as to dispel any notion that Pollini is a cool or aloof pianist (a canard I never accepted).

Age has made Pollini's Beethoven more poised than daring, and perhaps it was good that he waited so long to perform these relatively obscure sonatas; in his hands they are a model of classical balance and elegance. The pearly touch Pollini brings to the first movement of Op. 14 no. 1 is delightful. The finale of the same sonata has remarkable pre-echoes, so to speak, of Schubert's Rondo writing in his late piano works. The two buoyant Op. 14 sonatas find Beethoven in a party mood (or as close as he came) without a true slow movement between them. Like the rest of the program, Op. 22 is in a major-key and feels relatively uncomplicated, but this isn't to subtract from Beethoven's ingenious inventiveness. The first movement is witty, even a bit hare-brained in its mischievousness, as Pollini plays it. He's ebullient throughout, in fact, and I'd call his performance of Op. 22, along with the first movement of Op. 7, the high point of the program. He brings variety, relish, and alertness to every bar, defying the aging process.
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