Chopin: Scherzo No. 1; Scherzo No. 2; Scherzo No. 3; Scherzo No. 4

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WORKS: Scherzo No. 1; Scherzo No. 2; Scherzo No. 3; Scherzo No. 4
PERFORMER: Ivo Pogorelich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 439 947-2
One thing you need to appreciate Ivo Pogorelich is an open mind. No one can deny he is a superb pianist, with a huge range of colour and immaculate finish. His cantabile, or singing quality, can be spellbinding, and the precision with which he balances chords is a joy. But his ideas about music … well, perhaps you should clear your mind of all other pianists. On the one hand, Pogorelich makes them all sound comparatively mild, so impulsive and extreme are his speeds, so lethal the bite of his attack. I have never heard the fast sections of the first Scherzo played so fast. The slow middle section is also extreme, yet while Pogorelich cuts up the outer sections into disconnected sallies, his wonderful tone in the slow music keeps the line intact.


It’s the slow music in the second Scherzo that impresses, too, while Pogorelich is uncharacteristically short of fresh ideas in the main sections. (Demidenko has the right sense of their shocking contrasts.) But Pogorelich really comes into his own in the third Scherzo, which he takes very fast, but with the buoyant élan you associate with the title. His chording of the chorale sections is sonorously magnificent, his intervening filigree exquisite, and the final ‘con fuoco’ wicked. Overall, this is a stunning performance.


The fourth Scherzo doesn’t quite flow in the same way, but it’s full of unusual expressive points. After a ravishing account of the ‘più lento’ section, the reprise of the scherzo brings all sorts of novel insights, and Pogorelich’s sense of sweep in Chopin’s arcs of brilliant figuration is breathtaking. Adrian Jack