From The Times
September 28, 2007
The model of a modern major maestro
Maurizio Pollini, one of the greatest living pianists, has an unswerving passion for the contemporary
Maurizio Pollini is getting almost chatty these days. I first met him 20 years ago in his Milan apartment: part of a Renaissance palazzo, pristine white, exquisitely furnished. He was courtesy itself. Yet while his wife, as extrovert as he is insular, played with their son in the next room, I found myself spouting what was virtually a monologue in order to extract the odd precious monosyllable from the impeccably suited figure opposite.
Par for the course, I later discovered. Pollini might well be one of the greatest pianists of all time but, as far as interviewers were concerned, he has been an impenetrable enigma. For some concert-goers, too. There are morticians who go about their duties more chirpily than Pollini on the concert platform.
Yet at 65 he seems mellowed, relaxed, prepared to offer whole sentences, even short paragraphs, in reply to questions he deems interesting. He’s in London for two reasons. The first is to play two Beethoven concertos – the Emperor and the Fourth – with the London Philharmonic (the latter performance, on October 7, marking the orchestra’s 75th anniversary). The second is to take part in the South Bank’s celebration of the avant-garde Italian composer Luigi Nono, one of Pollini’s closest friends until his death in 1990. That concert, on October 31, will include . . . sofferte onde serene . . . – an astonishing work for piano and electronic tape specially written for him.
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