Piano Sonata No. 3; Barcarolle in F sharp; Nocturnes, Opp 48 & 62
Ivo Pogorelich (piano)
Sony Classical 19439912052 63:09 mins
Never far away from controversy at any stage of his career, Ivo Pogorelich hit the headlines early, when at the 1980 Chopin Competition in Warsaw his failure to make the final round led Martha Argerich to resign from the jury, protesting its treatment of the pianist she called a ‘genius’. He has divided opinion ever since, and remains a sad casualty of his own narcissism and the music industry itself. This latest comeback by the now reclusive Croatian pianist, his fifth Chopin disc, does little to change things.
Pogorelich’s noticeably short programme has its interesting moments, but all the works have been better served by countless other pianists. Everything here is mature Chopin – ‘late’ is a relative term when talking of a composer who died so young – and the earliest piece is the opening Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1. In both his chosen Nocturnes, Pogorelich allows bel canto lines to sag, and his prosaic and square performances are hardly helped by a slightly brittle recorded sound. Generally he is at his best in slow music, and has something to say in the introverted, ruminative moments of the Fantasy in F minor, but the faster episodes sound mechanical when they are not unsteady. The same applies to his Sonata No. 3 in B minor, which in places he pulls around to bangy effect yet in more measured moments is convincing enough. Pogorelich is now a shadow of the talent — however eccentric — that can still be heard on his early recordings.