Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Opp. 31 & 49
Label: Deutsche Grammophon (DG)
Here, the piano legend completes his 40-year effort to record every Beethoven piano sonata. The three Opus 31 works (Nos. 16-18) are first up (Tracks 1-10). The first movement of No. 16 has the hallmarks of Pollini's controversial style, as soft-into-loud dynamics crash against each other, without disturbing the crisp playing. But there are hints that Pollini has mellowed, too. Comparing the Sonata 17 to the pianist's one-off 1989 recording reveals a faster but somehow more placid first movement this time. The Opus 49 sonatas (Nos. 19 and 20) aren't show-stoppers, but Pollini has his fun.