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Interviews with Maurizio Pollini have been rarer than hen’s teeth, in stark contrast to his concert activity. Tellingly, this portrait begins with a shot of Pollini’s feet: we see his pedal technique up close. This is to be no ordinary film, as we have come to expect from Monsaingeon. There are no accompanying booklet notes: the film has to speak for itself. We see Pollini at home, discussing his family (‘a real passion for music’) and the musical life in Milan.

Musical excerpts are generous, apt and occasionally arresting (eg the juxtaposition of the end of Beethoven’s Third Concerto and Stockhausen). The snippets of the pianist with his friend Boulez take on added poignancy, of course.

Pollini claims to have only vague memories of far off events, but talks briefly of his teachers, Carlo Lonati, who effectively let him play unhindered, then Carlo Vidusso, who worked him hard; finally there is Michelangeli (some of whose fingerings Pollini still uses today). The film goes on to explore politics, Pollini’s friendship with Abbado, the piano he travels with, and his tuner, Antonio Fabbrini.

Pollini’s repertoire is examined, also: no Scarlatti, Ravel or Spanish music. Perhaps the strangest question asked is whether he is a missionary, to which comes the answer: ‘Absolutely not. I do things for my own pleasure, that’s all.’

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing