I really can't understand how anyone can give this recording less than 5 stars. Not only is Pollini's playing technically impeccable, but to say it lacks anything in passion or emotional impact is outright absurd: to listen to Pollini's performance of Op. 10, No. 12 and not feel the fire and urgency in his playing is to be incapable of feeling anything, period.
There are any number of performers who sacrifice all depth of feeling on the altar of showy virtuosity, but Maurizio Pollini on this particular recording is certainly not one of them. His handling of the Etudes makes, to my mind, for a healthy contrast with Martha Argerich's celebrated (but emotionally unsatisfying) rendering of Chopin's Preludes; Pollini and Argerich are both virtuosos, but where Argerich gallops through the preludes as if on a race to get somewhere else, squeezing all the feeling out of them in the process, Pollini does not let a desire to dazzle us with his abilities interfere with an interpretation of Chopin's compositions as the artist would have intended. In short, here is a recording which is about as far from "machine-like" as it is possible to get, and which proves that no choice need be made between getting things technically and emotionally correct.