Brahms himself played the solo part at the world premiere of his Piano
Concerto No. 2 in Budapest's Redoutensaal on 9 November 1881. The work
opens with a beautiful horn call which is like a magical summons to the
other instruments. The Scherzo is of symphonic proportions and richness.
The nocturne-like mood of the slow movement is based on the song of a solo
cello, a simple eight-measure phrase. The finale has a bright, skipping
figure for the piano as the principal rondo refrain.
Maurizio Pollini was born in Milan to a family of artists in 1942. In 1960
he won the first prize at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Since then, he
has been a leading protagonist at all major concert venues in Europe, as
well as in America and Japan. He has played with the most celebrated
conductors of our times, from Böhm to Karajan, Abbado to Sawallisch, Muti
to Celibidache. He has performed with Abbado and the Vienna and Berlin
Philharmonics at their main venues and on numerous tours. At the occasion
of a performance of the Beethoven concertos in Carnegie Hall in New York,
the Vienna Philharmonic gave him the Golden Ring, a sign of esteem granted
to very few musicians.
Pollini's repertoire extends from Bach to contemporary composers, but music
by Chopin, Beethoven, Schubert and the 20th century form a focal point of
his work. In recent years, Pollini has given many complete performances of
the Beethoven sonatas. Pollini is not only a superstar of the piano, but
also a socially committed artist who has often expressed his views on
political issues of the day. He also likes to confront his audiences with
the music of our time: Boulez, Nono, Stockhausen and other, often Italian,
composers. In 1996 he was awarded the prestigious Siemens Music Award for
his "peerless technical mastery, exquisite taste, natural, alert sense of
form and profound responsibility towards the music text."