BEST OF THE REST: The classical CDs we missed in 2022

THE GUARDIAN / Andrew Clements

It took Maurizio Pollini more than 30 years to complete his recordings of the Beethoven piano sonatas for Deutsche Grammophon. The first instalment of that series, which appeared in 1977, was devoted to the last five sonatas, including magisterial performances of the two paired on this new release, which was recorded in Munich’s Herkulessaal in June 2021 and April this year. In the 1970s Pollini was at the height of his powers, a level that he maintained well into this century, and which has assured him a place among the greatest pianists of our time. But in the past 10 years or so his live appearances have become more erratic, with nondescript, uninvolved performances outweighing those evenings when he recaptured his old mastery.

The relatively few studio recordings Pollini has made over the past decade have proved much more consistent. His approach, whether to Beethoven or Chopin, Debussy or Schoenberg, always tended towards the analytical, and he has never been a great keyboard colourist. In his later years his playing has become even more severe, but his intellectual grip on the music has remained as secure as ever. His discs of Chopin, with the pieces grouped chronologically, for instance, were often revelatory.


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