Chopin: Etudes Opp 10 and 25 – review

Maurizio Pollini (Testament)

After Maurizio Pollini won the Warsaw International Chopin Competition in 1960 at the age of 19, he signed a contract with EMI. The immediate upshot of the arrangement was his outstanding recording of Chopin's First Piano Concerto, with Paul Kletzki conducting, that has stayed in the catalogue since it was first released. It was followed by sessions in which Pollini recorded the two sets of Chopin Studies, Op 10 and Op 25, but Pollini refused to allow those tapes to be released. In fact, another eight years would elapse before Pollini made his only other disc for EMI, a Chopin recital. Soon afterwards, EMI terminated Pollini's contract and he signed with Deutsche Grammophon, with whom, among other works, he recorded the Chopin Studies in the 70s. They are superb performances, but very different in style and approach from that earlier EMI recording, which Testament has at last been able to remaster and release. It's utterly superb: there's a freshness about Pollini's playing, a spontaneity that's absent from his more magisterial later Chopin, and his technique is even more dazzling, too. If there's a more naturally musical and immaculate recording of the Studies than this 1960 account, then I have yet to hear it.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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