Post by JohnGavin
My vote goes to Pollini. In his prime, always plays with a beautiful objectivity free of distortion. This is not an easy conclusion, because of the elusive quality of the music. Schnabel is great in this music, but found his phrasing in the last movement not to my liking. Gave Serkin an open minded try - and every time he reaffirms the various reasons why I strongly dislike his playing. Sorry Rudolf.
Thanks for this post. I'm curious, though: it it possible to play this kind of music "objectively"?
Maybe it is, and I'm interested in Pollini's take, too, but it seems like personal music to me.
Maybe that's simplistic..
Of course each listener will have their own preferences - and that is as it should be.
But rather than using words to describe what a more objective interpretation means for me, I would give an example instead. Listen to a Schubert Lied sung first by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and then by Elly Ameling. ES inflects, bends and highlights certain words according to their meaning and context in the lyrics. Ameling sings directly, as if the beauty of the melody is of foremost importance.
The Schwarzkopf way leaves little to the listener’s imagination, delivering it on a silver platter (but in her very personalized view) whereas Ameling let’s the listener fill in the spaces with their own feeling and imagination) and yes - it certainly helps to know German.
I enjoy listening to both singers, but ultimately I admit to preferring Ameling. I find the Pollini / Ameling approach more deeply fulfilling- but it only adds up to one listener’s taste. By the way, it takes great skill, and masterful technique to succeed in delivering this sort of performance.