Chopin: Late Piano Works – Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op 60; 3 Mazurkas, Op 59; 3 Mazurkas, Op 63; Mazurka in F minor, Op 68 No 4; Polonaise-Fantasie in A flat major, Op 61; 2 Nocturnes, Op 62; 3 Valses, Op 64

Reviewed on Wed 08 Mar, 2017

Pollini, who could once rivet attention, does not on this occasion offer a personal charisma to capture interest even if you don’t necessarily agree with what he does.

Pianism, honed to a cutting edge of precision, cannot be questioned. But the medium here isn’t quite the message because a degree of marmoreal detachment often dogs Maurizio Pollini. Opening the recital is the Barcarolle and it’s a curtain-raiser to a series of performances sphinx-like in approach, nearly always tracing their outer constructs, but only occasionally probing behind their surfaces. And Pollini, who could once rivet attention, does not on this occasion offer a personal charisma to capture interest even if you don’t necessarily agree with what he does. The Valses, and one Mazurka (Op 68 No 4), comprise of the better interpretations. The others fall short in varying ways because Pollini stands back, refusing to tap the abyss of their multifaceted subjectivity. Musicians who do not baulk at the challenges are Stefan Askenase and Alfred Cortot (Barcarolle), Ivan Moravec (Polonaise Fantasie), William Kapell (remaining Mazurkas) and Maria-Joao Pires (Nocturnes).
–Nalen Anthoni