If the intention of this two-disc set is to show off the quality of Steinway pianos, it wholly succeeds. Anyone hearing the clarity, warmth, and depth of the pianos here would have to agree that Steinways are surely among the greatest pianos ever made. If the intention of this set is to show off the quality of Maurizio Pollini as a pianist, it completely succeeds. Although he has been accused of emotional objectivity and intellectual severity, anyone hearing his performances here would have to agree that Pollini has perhaps the finest technique of any pianist in the second half of the twentieth century. In performance after performance, from his astounding Three Movements from Petrouchka by Stravinsky to his astonishing "Winter Wind" Etude by Chopin, Pollini's playing is truly breathtaking. And if as a bonus the intention of this set is to show off the quality of Deutsche Grammophon's piano recordings, it entirely succeeds. The absolute lucidity and the undeniable reality of their sound puts Pollini and his Steinway right in the room with the listener. While fans of Pollini will no doubt already have all of these previously issued recordings, anyone who doesn't already know his playing should check out this set. Just put on the last track of the second disc -- Debussy's Pour les accords from his 12 Etudes -- it's guaranteed to blow your mind.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major ("Waldstein"), Op. 53|
|Symphonic Etudes ("Etudes in the form of variations") for piano (2 versions), Op. 13|
|Petrushka, movements (3) for piano|
|Variations for piano, Op. 27|