Friday 24 August 2007

Magnificent Pollini recital in Salzburg

Arriving at Salzburg train station 30 minutes before performance start and rushing to the Festival Hall arriving there exactly 5 minutes before the start of this sold-out performance – without a ticket - things didn’t really look that good. Then something amazing happened: While desperately looking around for tickets, I was suddenly approached by a young man asking me if I wanted a ticket, which he would then give me for free due to illness in his family – so that’s how I had a prime 13th row in the middle 90 Euro seat for this sold-out recital for free!

There are very few artists who have changed my way of viewing the works of a composer, with Maurizio Pollini playing Chopin being one (and Pierre Boulez/Debussy another). Not previously interested in Chopin’s music, which I have always found sentimental, I picked up this recording a couple of years ago by chance. And was immediately blown away by the playing, which shows a completely different Chopin than I had previously been acquainted with - magisterial, commanding, not without emotions, but never sentimental. To date I have never found interpretations as convincing as his in this repertoire.

First half of the recital with Schumann (see program below) started out well, but it was the Chopin program in the second half that blow the audience away. It was everything this music should be – magnificent, dynamic, commanding, with plenty of emotion but never sentimental. Deservedly greeted with standing ovations by the audience and three encores (all Chopin). I was later told that Pollini´s recitals may be of very fluctuating quality – and that this was an exceptionally good evening for him. It was definitely an exceptionally good evening for us lucky people in the audience.

Recital program below:

Robert Schumann Allegro op. 8
Robert Schumann Kreisleriana op. 16
Frédéric Chopin Prélude cis-Moll op. 45
Frédéric Chopin Ballade Nr. 2 F-Dur op. 38
Frédéric Chopin Deux Nocturnes cis-Moll und Des-Dur op. 27
Frédéric Chopin Scherzo Nr. 3 cis-Moll op. 39
Frédéric Chopin Polonaise As-Dur op. 53 – "Héroïque"

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