Maurizio Pollini plays Beethoven

The brilliant pianist completes his 40-year project to record all of Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas. David Mellor, Sunday 8 February 2015.

Tonight David Mellor showcases the genius of Maurizio Pollini, in particular the pianist's recently completed 40-year project to record all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas.

The sonatas are central to Beethoven’s works. As a composer and virtuoso pianist himself, he wrote for the instrument from the beginning to the end of his career, so a cycle of the piano sonatas gives an almost unparalleled insight into his development as a composer and as a master of the instrument.

Pollini’s complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas, the first to appear on the Deutsche Grammophon Label since Daniel Barenboim’s in the 1980s, takes its rightful place in the classical music discography alongside Wilhelm Kempff’s recordings from the 1950s and the incomplete Beethoven cycle made for DG by Emil Gilels, a project curtailed by the Soviet pianist’s sudden death in 1985.

Time has played an important role in the development of Pollini’s Beethoven. “The interpretation of all the works I play develops with time,” he has observed. “Otherwise, there would be no renewal. So every time we see a piece of music, there is a little difference. Life makes that difference.” 

David will also cover Pollini’s close collaborators such as the late great conductor Claudio Abbado, who before concerts would often take part in political rallies with Pollini.