Album of the Week: Maurizio Pollini

It was 1991. I was living in NYC and listening almost exclusively to contemporary classical music. Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain were performing at Carnegie Hall with Maurizio Pollini, a favorite pianist who performed many a challenging new work. The conductor’s own music was on the bill as were works by Webern (another favorite), Nono (another favorite), and Ligeti (another favorite). I could not have been more excited to attend.

When I arrived in my balcony seat, I read the program and noted that Maurizio Pollini would not be performing due to illness. Crap! The concert, however, was amazingly beautiful and inspiring. I left feeling fully charged, even closer to this music I was learning to love.

Which gets me to my love for the music made by Maurizio Pollini. Perhaps his absence fueled my enjoyment of his work but nonetheless enjoy it I have for these intervening decades. As good fortune would have it, my Qobuz Beta account was approved this past week and one of the new releases they highlighted was Pollini playing Chopin’s late piano works: Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Berceuse, Sonata, Opp. 55-58.

The opening piece, Nocturne No. 15 in F minor, Op. 55 No. 1, is about as lovely a thing as I’ve heard. Pollini lets go with some emotion, not too much mind you, and this music moves me, gently, to some serene, lovely place. Bravo!

If you’re looking for 53 minutes of beauty, look no further. I will also add that this recording is available in 24/96 which is what Qobuz offers through their Studio streaming service and it sounds glorious.

Chopin: Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Berceuse, Sonata, Opp. 55-58 performed by Maurizio Pollini  is available from Deutsche Grammophon.

Listen here: