MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Pollini’s Chopin

Reviewing Maurizio Pollini’s recent Carnegie Hall recital, Anthony Tommasini captures what makes the 73-year-old pianist’s Chopin so unique:

The high point came after intermission, with Mr. Pollini’s revelatory account of a later Chopin work, the Polonaise Fantaisie in A flat. This enigmatic 13-minute piece is like a free-roaming, pensive fantasy from which a dark yet snappy polonaise tries to emerge. Ambiguity was exactly the quality Mr. Pollini, long admired for his Chopin, emphasized in his fascinating performance.

The opening alternates short flourishes of majestic chords with curious strands of lacy lines that trail up the keyboard. Is some kind of march about to begin? Or is the music already consumed with self-reflection? It’s both at once, as Mr. Pollini’s playing suggested. Hearing this performance, I realized as never before that every time the dancing elements of the polonaise emerge, the themes are quizzical, the harmonies wayward.

Filed under: Chopin, pianists


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