This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
With full-bodied sonority, a strong sense of direction and a suggestion of cumulative urgency and might, Pollini really does bring home the fact that Schumann chose to call these studies "symphonic."
Like Arrau, Pollini oddly uses the first of the two editions or this work published by Schumann in his lifetime—a matter of no great consequence until the finale, which I think is all the better for the compression, albeit small, of the second edition. As for the five early variations Schumann decided not to include in either edition, these Pollini inserts in one group between the fifth and sixth studies, just as Richter often does on the concert platform. At least this is better than constant disruption of
Schumann's carefully considered sequence, though I still think they arc better played as an independent kind of encore group at the very end—as we get them from Murray Perahia (CBS) and that imposing young Frenchman, Francois-René Duchable (Erato/ Conifer NUM75046--not submitted for review).
Apart from those two small quibbles, I was enormously impressed by the masterful stature of this new reading. With full-bodied, generously pedalled sonority, a strong sense of direction and a suggestion of cumulative urgency and might, Pollini really does bring home the fact that Schumann chose to call these studies "symphonic". I would describe it as a performance of higher voltage than that of Murray Perahia, always one of my top favourites in this work. But Perahia, with his transparent, sometimes lighter, texture, allows himself time to explore the music more personally—especially the five rejected variations and that similarly beautiful duet in G sharp minor, No. II. In all of these, Perahia's poetry is hard to beat. Of the more demonstrative studies I also think Perahia makes more of the left-hand semiquavers in No. 10 (incidentally here Pollini curiously rejects the first edition's few right-hand extras). But Pollini scores in breadth and poise in No. 2, where Perahia's timing is a bit too jerky. In sum, then, a roundabouts-and-swings problem for the collector, only to be resolved by buying both versions. Whereas for a second-side fill-up Perahia chooses Papillons, Pollini opts for the Arabeske, eschewing all drawing-room prettification in favour of firm outlines and boldly contrasted episodes.
-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [9/1984]
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