Maurizio Pollini Plays Chopin Review - A Spectacular Performance

What a delight it was to attend Symphony Center for the 3:00p.m. concert  on May 28th, 2017 that featured piano legend Maurizio Pollini in an all Chopin program.  What could be better on this long holiday weekend?  Surely the crowd that filled Symphony Center and rose to a most enthusiastic standing ovation thought this was the place to be.


Maurizio Pollini

Music of Fredrick Chopin filled the afternoon with works that were familiar, and not so familiar, romantic, light, deep and finally work that was very evolved.  With the deft hands of Pollini moving across the keyboard, slowly, quickly, lightly and powerfully, music flowed and satisfied an enthusiastic audience.

The Program:

Two Nocturnes, Op. 27

No. 1 in C-sharp Minor

No. 2 in D-flat Major

Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, Op. 47

Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52

Berceuse in D-flat Major, Op. 57

Scherzo No. 1 in B Minor, Op. 20


Two Nocturnes, Op. 55

No. 1 in F Minor

No. 2 in E-flat Major

Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58

Allegro maestoso

Scherzo: Molto vivace


Finale: Presto, non tanto


Generously, pianist POLLINI offered two encores-

CHOPIN Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 39

CHOPIN Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23


Taking my seat, I was impressed by the dramatic setting of the huge, beautiful piano, the centerpiece of a stark but graceful stage set the tone for the performance that followed. More than a half-century into his career, Pollini, a paragon of musical excellence continues to thrill audiences around the world. Remarkably, he has been prized by critics across several generations in every corner of the globe, performing with celebrated conductors and orchestras in all the major European, American and Japanese concert halls and festivals. 


Maurizio Pollini

His repertoire is astounding ranging from Bach to contemporary composers. He has recorded classical, romantic and contemporary works to critical acclaim.  Especially applicable to the current program is Pollini’s recording of Chopin’s nocturnes, which was received enthusiastically by audiences and critics.  A special note, “In recognition of his seventy-fifth birthday, Deuthsche Grammophon released Pollini’s complete recordings, consisting of more than fifty-five discs and three bonus DVDs in a boxed set.”


Though I have loved the music of Chopin even as a child, I heard it differently in the hands of this world-renowned Italian performer. Beginning with the more familiar, lighter and romantic pieces, and moving to works that were longer, more nuanced and darker, the works of Chopin took on new meaning for me.


Chopin’s “ballades” bring a balance between intellect and emotion.  They carry the listener away or at least at this performance, this listener was carted a realm beyond the concert hall.  Chopin was the first composer to apply the term to instrumental music but other composers later used this term.


Maurizio Pollini

The last work performed was also the last work written by Chopin, Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58.  This was a Chopin that was unfamiliar to me.  Darker and deeper than the works that I usually think of as Chopin, this work is considered a major musical achievement, especially the ending.  Working in the key of B Minor was innovative at the time Chopin introduced this work.


Coming full circle, Pollini’s offering of CHOPIN Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23, familiar and satisfying left the audience glowing as they left Symphony Center.


Check the Symphony Center website for upcoming performances and tickets.


Photos: Mathias Bothor, courtesy of the CSO Piano Series








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