Last week, in the process of recommending recordings of Claude Debussy’s Préludes for Piano, I brought up the pianist Roger Woodward, whose recording of the Préludes I adore. The response I received from many of you was not unexpected but still shivered my timbers: “Roger WHO?”
Yes: when I introduced Roger Woodward last week, I did so by calling him: “the greatest pianist in the world that you have probably (and sadly) never heard of.”
THIS MUST END, at least among those who are discriminating enough to follow me. So here’s my game plan. I’m going to spend the remainder of this post ruminating on the depth of the pianistic talent pool, the fickleness of fame, and yes, something having to do with brassieres. I will return next week to address two recording YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT: Roger Woodward’s recording of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues.
Let us begin by recognizing an almost terrifying truism: when it comes to wonderful pianists, the talent pool is deeper than the Marianas Trench. In last week’s post, I mentioned that – if I have to choose – my all-around favorite pianist is the Milan-born Maurizio Pollini. The reasons are four-fold: his absurd technique, the clarity of his playing (one hears every line all the time), his musical intelligence, and the fact that he is a pianistic omnivore: he can and will play anything and make it all (even Boulez, god rest his snotty Gallic soul) sound like music.
But saying that Pollini is a “favorite” means almost nothing, because – in fact – I am a pianist-slut: I tend to be in love with whomever I listening to at the moment