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on 17 March 2011
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.
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on 6 December 2002
If any recording of Chopin can sit, unchallenged, in that marketing mans invention The Greatest Recordings of the Century, then this can. Don't be put off by those that quibble about Pollini playing the music 'straight'. There's nothing wrong with that and I, like many others, actually prefer him played that way.That is not to say that there is not plenty of excitement and interest in these readings. Go out and get the Polonaises and the 1st Piano Concerto as well! You will not be disappointed by playing of one of the great pianists of our time.
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on 20 December 2015
Maurizio Pollini has one great asset, which has not been stressed enough - with all his wonderful technique of piano playing, he makes the music as accessible as possible to 'ordinary' listeners. Although this 'textbook' approach, according to some, lacks emotion, it's not really true. Rather, playing each note as it should be played, adds much value to the overall impact of the performance.
This advantage of his playing makes Pollini an ideal interpreter of Chopin's Etudes. All the tempos are in the right place, all the difficult passages are infused with just a correct dose of feeling. My only reservations is to the works as such - for me, the first 12 Etudes, Op. 10, are a typical, glorious Chopin stuff. The second half (Op. 25) is full of more obscure, not really attractive compositions - probably my least favorite of Chopin's oeuvre. It remains a mystery to me, why the late Etudes are such (especially when comparing this to the fact that the later Nocturnes are more introspective and later Polonaises more profound and beautiful, for example). Still, Pollini plays all of them exquisitely - especially No. 3 in F is as perfect as can be.
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on 1 September 2013
Not least because it announced a career...and what a star in the illustrious firmament we can classify with the older generation of Weissenberg, Richter, Horowitz you name it. Technically, if not always emotionally or interpretively, Pollini is their equal. Only Argerich can stand in his company today. Is it surprising they were both pupils of the legendary Michelangeli? Not surprising they both share the master's white hot temperament yet icy cold detachment.

When this recording came out in the 1970s it caused a sensation among critics and queues at the record shops. It has since remained a reliable benchmark to judge all other performances.

Did Pollini realise the potential he showed then? There are critics. But his concerts are sold out many times over. And in the recording studio he offers a very grand view of the piano literature, not for him the settling on this or that single recital like a butterfly stretching its wings in a showy display of virtuosity to woo the celebrity image conscious record buying public of today. Instead Pollini has continued to offer pianism and concentrated interpretations that have been an education and a pleasure to purchase and listen and re-listen to. As we go forward into the 21st century he stands ahead of all other pianists currently active in the concert hall in terms of technique and depth.

Having spoken so highly of the "contributing artist", as Windows Media calls him, what do you get on this disc?

If you like your steaks rare, with the blood seeping out of the meat, and served with an excellent sauce poivre, possibly in a first rate restaurant such as the Au Boeuf Couronne, Jean Jaures, Paris or similar, then this playing will be completely to your liking.

It is red blooded Chopin playing that will raise the hair on the back of your neck, tingle your spine, and generally leave you gasping.

NOT to have or buy this disc is unforgiveable!
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on 15 October 2013
My last copy of this cd got damaged because I often listened in the car. It wasn't restored by cleaning so I had to buy it again for the wonderful performance by Pollini.
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on 9 December 2015
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on 6 November 2000
This was the first recording of the Etudes I listened to. Since then, I have ploughed through the offerings of Berezovsky, Ashkenzay (the earlier version), Cortot and Zayas. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the finest recording of these pieces is by Juana Zayas (an unknown argentinan pianist). Pollini plays these pieces 'straight' and if you want to add on the extras frills in your imagination then this CD may be to your liking. Cortot plays the notes he wants to, and I've never liked his playing (!), while Berezovsky offers (in general) a more lyrical view of these pieces. Pollini gets 5 stars but get Zayas's recording...
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on 10 March 2008
When I started to collect classical music cds 25 years ago, this cd was among the first several cds I bought encouraged by ecstatic reviews. As I came to know more artistically superior recordings like Anievas, Horowitz, Rubinstein etc. Pollini's quickly left my shelves.

Polini is amazing in terms of technical polish. But it sounds as if played by player-piano, completely lacking in poetry and inspiration. For example, where is the etherial beauty and delicacy in A flat Etude Op.25 No.1 "The Harp"? Rubinstein and Anievas both play it like a small miracle. If you want technical brilliance only, Gavrilov's going-for-broke version is more exciting. If you seek both technical extremism and artistic depth, no pianist comes even close to Richter's earlier recordings, sadly he never recorded complete Chopin Etudes though.
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