Listening to Yourself: works by Couperin, Rameau, Busoni, Saariaho, Chopin, AlbŽniz, Rachmaninov, Ravel and J Strauss

COMPOSERS: Albeniz,Busoni,Chopin,Listening to Yourself: works by Couperin,Rachmaninov,Rameau,Ravel and J Strauss,Saariaho
LABELS: EuroArts
ALBUM TITLE: Roland Pöntinen
PERFORMER: Roland Pöntinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: EuroArts 2055768 (NTSC system; DD 5.1, dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)
Third of the unconventional pianists filmed around and during recitals at the enterprising Ruhr Piano Festival, Pöntinen is more reticent than Berezovsky and Hamelin (reviewed last month),but an admirable and reflective artist all the same. His programme here is equally adventurous. Elegant pieces by Couperin and Rameau are followed by revelatory Busoni, including the daunting Toccata delivered with characteristic sharpness, and Saariaho – a little too fond of trills and glissandos, perhaps lost without her usual orchestral finesse. Chopin’s Fourth Ballade here provides the fulcrum of darkness and light in a highly individual performance before Pöntinen relaxes with Albéniz (he says his big ambition is to play the whole of Iberia). There are certainly enough ‘goosepimps’ to be had here, as guru-pianist Janos Solyom so charmingly calls them in discussion with Pöntinen over the Busoni. His presence enlivens the ‘Portrait’, while the bonus interview here shows the self‑conscious Jan Schmidt-Garre asking most of the same questions he has already set up with Hamelin and Berezovsky, which may eitherseem unimaginative or a useful point of comparison, depending on your point of view. It certainly yields some thoughtful results when he advances the familiar query, ‘For whom are you playing?’. Interestingly, Pöntinen reveals that the ultimate challenges are still to be found in Schumann’s Toccata and Ligeti’s Ninth Etude, which he has yet to hear performed as the score demands.

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