Why did we have had to wait over fifty years for this unique recording?
Maurizio Pollini withheld his permission for his first complete recording of the Chopin Etudes Opp. 10 & 25 to be released. While the legendary DG recording from the 1970s has long been acknowledged as one of the finest versions of the Chopin Etudes, the previously unissued version from Abbey Road Studios in 1960
– characterised by a lighter touch and greater musical freedom – is now available on Testament label.
Listen to samples here.
Eighteen-year-old Maurizio Pollini recorded the complete Chopin Etudes for EMI in 1960, right after his first prize victory in the International Warsaw Chopin Competition. EMI’s late producer Peter Andrys described Pollini’s playing of the Etudes as “a spine-tingling experience”. Pollini however did not permit them to be issued and further recording sessions produced personality clashes. Pollini abandoned recording for ten years. Eventually he signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.
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. — The Guardian
This is very good 1960 piano sound. The instrument is recorded in close-up, as opposed to the concert hall acoustic Pollini has favoured since. Close scrutiny is no problem; indeed, it’s an asset for playing that is so controlled, expressive and phenomenally accurate. — Limelight Magazine
Technically, Pollini’s two recorded versions are equivalent in mastery and, although different in execution, musically they scale the same height. Is there too much gap between the last two studies? Once the final Etude’s semiquavers are unleashed, though, one can marvel at Pollini’s harmonic awareness and the way he shapes the music. His fingers ensure remarkable delivery. — Classicalsource.com
Chopin Etude in C major Op. 10 no 1:
Hear samples from Pollini at the 1960 Chopin Competition in Warsaw