by Rachel Beaumont

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Close but no cigar: Maurizio Pollini at the RFH

Maurizio Pollini
Royal Festival Hall
Side Stall Y24, £10
13 March 2018
Southbank page

Schumann Arabesque in C, op. 18; Allegro in B minor, op. 8; Concert sans orchestre (first version, in 3 movements, of Piano Sonata no. 3 in F minor, op. 14)
Chopin Two Nocturnes, op. 55; Sonata no.3 in B minor, op. 58
Encores: Chopin Scherzo no. 3, op. 39; Berceuse, op. 57; Etude no. 11 in A minor, op. 25

Great music, great musician: what’s not to like? Well. It’s obviously very exciting to be in the same room as Maurizio Pollini and for you to know he’s Maurizio Pollini and he be playing the piano and you be hearing that live, from his fingers to your ear drums. This is certainly worth £10. And yet he is a very old great musician, and the flesh is no longer able to keep pace with the spirit.

There was the soul of many great performances here. But its radiance was obscured by thick pedalling, a lack of springy agility and a lot of wrong notes. What was left was a bit of a mush, exciting for the energy and musicianship it hinted at (particularly in the bonkers Schumann) and all the more tantalizing for that.

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