16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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For those who don't know Pollini, he is the paragon of "universalism". He is reliably "very good" at a minimum, and occasionally brilliant. His razor-precise accuracy, consummate rhythmic drive, and tendency toward clarity make him well-suited for nearly anything you put in front of him. In particular, he seems to pay an in incredible amount of care and attention to voicing, and on that particular technical point, he is second to none. He always seems to delineate a clear "melodic" line, without any sort of sentimentalizing or other such nonsense.
Of course, Bach and Beethoven are frequently troublesome for non-specialists, because they require a rather particular approach, confounding the otherwise portable talents of "universalists" like Pollini. To wit, I would classify Pollini's recent Bach effort in the "good enough but not great" category. He just applies his generic polish and shine to the notes that Bach wrote, without really giving us very many new ideas. Standard tempos, standard articulation, standard everything. And I'm inclined to think that Pollini's Beethoven is also GENERALLY a weakness, though one yearns to have weaknesses so brilliant as Pollini's.
The exception then is THIS disc. To dig in a bit deeper, I am always surprised how disappointing the Waldstein and Tempest sound when played by otherwise brilliant Beethoven specialists. I'm thinking of Brendel, Kempff, Arrau, and Serkin, who are all brilliant in their other Beethoven efforts, but for whom these pieces seem to pose a unique challenge. I won't speculate too much on why this might be, but as a quick guess, I think the Tempest and Waldstein are deceptively episodic. That is, upon inspection, it seems that they have the sort of episodic form that Beethoven employed in many of his later Sonatas (note: the Tempest and Waldstein are "middle period"). However, it seems to me that they require more of a single-affect approach. Like a Bach prelude or invention or something along those lines. That is, they seem to want for a degree of "flattening out" stylistically. And (this is, incidentally, all my subjective opinion here) both pieces offer plenty of tempting opportunities to liberally insert fermatas and rubato, which the pianist would do well to avoid. I think most pianists tend to fall into that trap. Additionally, both sonatas are notably less contrapuntal than many of the other 32, which tends to favor to a more "polished" top-heavy interpretation.
In any case, Pollini ends up being perfect for the demands of those two sonatas (and the other two on the disc). He tends to be very restrained rhythmically, keeping himself judiciously metronomic. He also selects brisker tempi, which complement his rhythmic consistency well. There are other good versions worth mentioning, which deserve comparative listening. Gould's Tempest is, to my mind, very similar to Pollini's interpretation, but perhaps with a few more pleasant surprises. Characteristically, Gould's voicing strives to illuminate contrapuntal elements, whereas Pollini is pretty exclusively concerned with the top-line. No matter, the pieces resist Gould's efforts and the two end up sounding very similar. For the Waldstein, Goode and Brautigam (the latter on a period instrument) are very comparable to Pollini. Here, I think Pollini wins out. In any case, this disc is either the reference version or a close second-place in all four of these pieces, and they are all thoroughly worthy of a privileged place on anyone's listening list.
Incidentally, I probably ought to mention the perennial standard that is Artur Schnabel. He is, of course, just as good as anyone in ANY Beethoven piece. And while I am generally willing to overlook shoddy recording quality, the Schnabel is just so damn ancient, one really ought to have at least ONE other version of any given sonata, even if the Schnabel is preferred. In this particular case, I would certainly recommend the Pollini.
Finally, I would like to comment on a review by some other Amazonian here, who criticized the DG engineering of this disc. I find that criticism utterly obtuse. No doubt Pollini was consulted on the micing of the piano, and the treble-biased close-micing likely makes a large (and positive) contribution to the "Pollini sound". Yes, it is brittle, and yes it does tend to overemphasize the top line. But then, Pollini himself is trying to bring out the top line, so the micing really only helps him to do what he wants anyway. And the brittleness is part of the charm. What you call "brittle", I call "bell-like" and "pleasantly raw". It's perhaps a matter of taste, but it is most certainly not a "mistake" on the part of the sound engineers.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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This recording announces itself with Thunder and Lightning, and indeed its other title can be - the almighty Jupiter is playing a very tempestuous klavier!
The true AMAZEMENT comes with Pollini playing "Waldstein" - a sonata I never esteemed much, clearly because I have never heard it played correctly - meaning, until hearing playing by Pollini! It has always seemed to me as some kind of an etude without much substance; although I highly esteemed Claudio Arrau ( mostly for his Valley d'Obermann by Liszt) his "Waldstein" leaves me bewildered and cold. I took such an interest in this sonata because a booklet to Paul Lewis complete sonatas edition referred to Waldstein as a "L'Aurore" or "Sunrise". So I listened to Paul Lewis, Claudio Arrau, Artur Schnabel, Alfred Brendel, Emil Gilels, and the result still begged a questing - where is the famed sunrise? And I forgot this allusion until I have heard this recording, which I actually wanted to hear for The Tempest and Les Adieux - and suddenly...it dawned on me! It was as sudden as seeing a phenomenal work of art:
Acrylic Keyring Guercino Aurora
as the roaring of a splendid chariot, as the touch of magic rays that wakes up the sleep and announce the miracle of the sunrise; his octaves come in rainbow colors and waves, superb! I can only say that Pollini's interpretation is BY FAR the best and truest of what I am sure Beethoven was trying to express; I wonder if he could play it so brilliantly himself...
Shall I find more superlatives to describe this incredible playing? Let's start with saying that if Arrau takes 27 minutes to play "Waldstein", Pollini is 23 minutes, and yes, when it is explicitly written: "prestissimo", then it matters, and whatever is the personal interpretation, it should not be "prestissimo ma non troppo", as Arrau and others seem to do it - and I think they simply can't match Pollini's absolutely dazzling technique. Yet Pollini does it without omitting the slightest nuance - on the contrary, it seems that he exploits all the possibilities of the pianoforte as an instrument; it really sounds as he is a god who knows no limits! The only other pianist who fills me with the same sense of awe is Vladimir Horowitz, but ... in this sonata Pollini is infinitely BETTER, even though both are equal on the timescale, playing it with supernatural speed! I could not believe my ears that someone has beaten Vladimir - but in fact, it is the second time it happens - here by Pollini, and another time by Michelangeli - in Chopin's Ballade Op.23. And should this be a surprise, learning that Pollini was Michelangeli's pupil???
Both Italians play the aforementioned pieces with far greater sensitivity than Horowitz; I actually think that the third movement ("the sunrise") Pollini plays indescribably better - more expansive, expressive, nuanced than Horowitz, who is too showy with his diabolic technique in Waldstein. Yet what is divine that Pollini is no less!!! - and seems so far to be the only one who can devour the instrument like Horowitz. What a parade of genius !
One reason why Beethoven wrote such a virtuoso piece could be that he received a new innovative piano then, a Parisian Erard, and wished to explore all it offered.
Also noteworthy is the key - C major; Grieg's "Morning Mood" is written in the same key, referring to the sunrise as well! While Mussorgsky's "The Dawn over the Moscow river" is in another, E-major, but the theme, the tune, the melody, the approach are all the same! Could Mussorgsky "borrow" Beethoven's idea on L'Aurore from Wien-river to Moscow-river?
In addition, could Beethoven borrow a tune from Mozart - in the middle of the first movement there is a clear allusion to the Count Almaviva's aria "Vedrò mentr'io sospiro"?! We can also call it artistic influence... How thought-provoking Pollini's "Waldstein" is!
His "Les Adieux" is also a masterpiece above all other interpretations I have heard. And what is astonishing that in addition to the phenomenal technique his playing is so full of emotion and passion; this sonata, like Hammerklavier, is dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, in this case, to his departure from Vienna. I covered Les Adieux story and Beethoven-Rudolph patronage relationship extensively in my review of the Paul Lewis set. This is another superb interpretation here, far superior to many of other pianists, although Les Adieux seems to be less challenging than Waldstein or The Tempest.
The Tempest (Der Sturm) by Pollini is a TRUE Tempest - how he masters the score, and I love that he depicts a real hurricane, not just "Raindrops" like some other pianists do, simply because they just can't keep the structure of a piece at a constant stratospheric speed that takes you breath away.
The story of the sonata helps to understand its music better, and provides one more clue to Pollini's superb interpretation:
In the summer of 1802, Beethoven's physician ordered him to leave Vienna and take rooms in Heiligenstadt, today a friendly suburb at the northern terminus of the city's subway system, but two centuries ago a quiet village with a view of the Danube across the river's rich flood plain. Three years earlier, in 1799, Beethoven first noticed a disturbing ringing and buzzing in his ears, and he sought medical attention for the problem soon thereafter. He tried numerous cures for his malady, as well as for his chronic colic, including oil of almonds, hot and cold baths, soaking in the Danube, pills, and herbs. For a short time he even considered the modish treatment of electric shock. On the advice of his latest doctor, Beethoven left the noisy city for the quiet countryside with the assurance that the lack of stimulation would be beneficial to his hearing and his general health.
In Heiligenstadt, Beethoven virtually lived the life of a hermit, seeing only his doctor and a young student named Ferdinand Ries. In 1802, he was still a full decade from being totally deaf. The acuity of his hearing varied from day to day (sometimes governed by his interest--or lack thereof--in the surrounding conversation), but he had largely lost his ability to hear soft sounds by that time, and loud noises caused him pain. Of one of their walks in the country, Ries reported, "I called his attention to a shepherd who was piping very agreeably in the woods on a flute made of a twig of elder. For half an hour, Beethoven could hear nothing, and though I assured him that it was the same with me (which was not the case), he became extremely quiet and morose. When he occasionally seemed to be merry, it was generally to the extreme of boisterousness; but this happens seldom." In addition to the distress over his health, Beethoven was also wounded in 1802 by the wreck of an affair of the heart. He had proposed marriage to Giulietta Guicciardi (the thought of Beethoven as a husband threatens the moorings of one's presence of mind!), but had been denied permission by the girl's father for the then perfectly valid reasons that the young composer was without rank, position, or fortune. Faced with the extinction of a musician's most precious faculty, fighting a constant digestive distress, and unsuccessful in love, it is little wonder that Beethoven was sorely vexed.
On October 6, 1802, following several months of wrestling with his misfortunes, Beethoven penned the most famous letter ever written by a musician--the "Heiligenstadt Testament." Intended as a will written to his brothers (it was never sent though he kept it in his papers to be found after his death), it is a cry of despair over his fate, perhaps a necessary and self-induced soul-cleansing. "O Providence --grant meat last but one day of pure joy--it is so long since real joy echoed in my heart," he lamented. But--and this is the miracle--he not only poured his energy into self-pity, he also channeled it into music. "I shall grapple with fate; it shall never pull me down," he resolved. The next five years were the most productive he ever knew. "I live only my music," Beethoven wrote, "and I have scarcely begun one thing when I start another." The Symphonies Nos. 2--5, a dozen piano sonatas, the Fourth Piano Concerto, and the Triple Concerto, Fidelio, many songs, chamber works, and keyboard compositions were all composed between 1802 and 1806.
The Opus 31 Piano Sonatas that Beethoven completed during the summer of 1802 in Heiligenstadt stand at the threshold of a new creative language, the dynamic and dramatic musical speech that characterizes the creations of his so-called "second period." The D minor Sonata, the second of the Opus 31 set, is one of the most personal works of that crucial time. When Anton Schindler asked him in later years about the "meaning" of the Sonata, he was told to "go and read Shakespeare's Tempest," a comment that has caused scholars to seek elaborate literary programs lurking among the notes. Though the work bursts with strong emotion and musical drama, there is no specific program here but rather the forceful and immediate communication of ineffable states of mind and feeling. The music of this Sonata is an expression of one of those psychological struggles that Beethoven felt called upon more and more to delineate as he was more and more shut out from the companionship of the external world. Such struggles are in the truest sense of the word `tempests."
That is all about "The Tempest".
Concluding the overall impression on this recording, a strange feeling seizes one's soul listening to it, similar to the revelation of beauty experienced when entering San-Maurizio church in Milan, the interior of which is completely frescoed by an amazing artist Bernardino Luini and his with assistants:
FRAMED oil paintings - Bernardino Luini - 24 x 32 inches - The Martyrdom of St Maurice
if I could, I would dedicate the miracle of art and divine beauty of San-Maurizio to Maurizio Pollini's musical genius.
This recording is an absolute must.