Maurizio Pollini is one of the greatest pianists of the last 50 years and he is not afraid to champion work by more modern composers. If you want melodic Bartok, check out his 3rd Piano Concerto, completed near the end of his life. If you want to hear something that will grab you and shake you by the lapels, something that is percussive, dissonant and harsh, something exciting and original, then this just might be your cup of tea. Bartok wrote this in 1926, the same year he wrote his equally brilliant Piano Sonata.
Can’t get enough?
The very first 45 rpm record I purchased, at age 10, was The Theme from Exodus (the movie). Not from the original sound track, but the version for 2 pianos, arranged and performed by Ferrante & Teicher, the American piano playing duo. Lately, I have rediscovered their unique magic. Here is a clip of them performing (on a single piano).
Stravinsky composed the music for Petrushka as a Ballet in 1910-1911. The story of a puppet, Petrushka, made of straw and sawdust, who comes to life and develops emotions. And I am sure it is a real exciting experience. But I am more interested in this version, the piano version, which was created in 1921 for pianist Arthur Rubinstein (Stravinsky himself could not play it, in fact, I don’t know how anyone can play it, seems insanely difficult, exhausting). It is a joyful, colorful, modern work of art, a real show stopper, a treat to see performed (especially by the beautiful Yuja Wang!).