Just in: Pogorelich breaks record silence

Just in: Pogorelich breaks record silence


norman lebrecht

October 31, 2016

It is eighteen years since the Croatian pianist made his last recording for Deutsche Grammophon.

Apparently, they had a difference of opinion. Pogorelich, a my-way man, was prepared to wait.

Today he released a Beethoven recording on the digital channel Idagio.

Here’s their take on it:

Berlin, October 31, 2016 – The legendary pianist Ivo Pogorelich has just released his first recording since 1998, including Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas No. 22 in F Major Op. 54 and No. 24 in F-sharp major Op. 78. As announced by the Berlin-based classical music platform Idagio, the recording will be available from November 2nd 2016 exclusively on idag.io/pogorelich and on the Idagio iOS App. This release marks out Pogorelich as the first classical star to make a recording available exclusively in digital form.

According to pianist Ivo Pogorelich, “In order to reach younger generations, we need to distribute art through the platforms that they use. Idagio offers me as an artist the opportunity to make my recordings available worldwide in a fraction of a second. I find it alarming that young people are constantly staring at their smartphones and speaking through headsets; however, they are also developing excellent instincts in the virtual world and following their intuition. They are an unbiased and attentive audience with great potential for classical music.” Idagio founder, Till Janczukowicz, commented: “Idagio is proud to welcome one of the world’s most significant soloists to its community of partners, which already includes orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic. As a purely classical platform, our aim is to combine high quality and human curation with technology, thereby helping musicians, promoters and labels to be better heard in the digital space.”

Ivo Pogorelich’s unique career began almost overnight in 1980 when he was not admitted to compete in the finals of the Warsaw Chopin Competition. The pianist Martha Argerich angrily withdrew from the jury with the words “he is a genius”. Since then, Pogorelich’s interpretations have set worldwide standards.

The classical music streaming platform Idagio was launched in 2015 at the Salzburg Festival and offers access to a constantly growing catalogue of high-quality recordings and tens of thousands of hours of music. Idagio is currently available in every country worldwide except for the USA. Through specially developed classical music search functions and curated playlists, as well as an easy-to-use interface, classical music can be enjoyed by aficionados and beginners alike.


Ivo Pogorelich bowing after concert, 1 March 2013

About Idagio:

The classical music platform Idagio was launched in 2015 and offers access to a constantly growing catalogue of high-quality recordings and tens of thousands of hours of music. The company is managed by Till Janczukowicz (founder) and Christoph Lange (co-founder). The two combine years of experience in artist management, production and the development of exclusive concert series, together with an expert knowledge of the startup scene in regards to music streaming services. With a team of 18, they are programming and creating “the new way to listen to classical music” in the European capital of classical music and startups, Berlin. IDAGIO is currently available in every country worldwide except for the USA. For additional information: www.idagio.com



  • alec johnston says:

    Interesting choice of works!

  • David Boxwell says:

    It’s been more than a third of a century since he appeared on the cover of “Gramophone” sporting scruffy trainers, and outraged the world!

    Tempus fugit.

  • Anon says:

    Not exactly the “first star” to do so. Barenboim’s Peral label is exclusively digital, and many others have released digital only (but one’s definition of ‘star’ may vary).

  • La Verita says:

    “In 1980 when he was not admitted to the finals of the Warsaw Chopin Competition, the pianist Martha Argerich angrily withdrew from the jury with the words “he is a genius”.

    Yes, Martha did say that 36 years ago — but if she has heard Pogorelich play within the last 10 years or so, it’s highly doubtful that she would still be using the “g” word to describe him. Pogorelich’s playing has deteriorated to the point where he wouldn’t be admitted to the junior division of a provincial conservatory.

    • Olassus says:

      … I think there is a disability of some sort. That’s life, alas. His intelligence of course remains. It is conceivable that, with enough takes, the studio Beethoven will be worth hearing.

    • Steven van Staden says:

      He criticised Horowitz for making his first Tokyo appearance while in poor mental health and heavily sedated. Horowitz’s playing on that occasion was admittedly terrible. However, Horowitz, in his eighties, later recovered and made good.

      I hope that Pogorelich and his company realise that his own playing lately has been appalling. I doubt that whatever is wrong is something he can recover from. I find it mind-boggling that audiences generally seem not to be aware of very poor playing when the name is big.

      I haven’t heard his Beethoven, but the last Pogorelich performance I heard of the Rachmaninoff second sonata was in every way abominable.

  • John Borstlap says:

    “Since then, Pogorelich’s interpretations have set worldwide standards.” I don’t agree: his extreme handling of dynamics and willful distortions of phrases, show a performer more concerned with his ego than with the music, which is regrettable since he definitely has an enormous talent. It is a problem comparable with Glenn Gould’s: these people use the music to serve their own emotional needs and that is not for which serious music has been written. A good performer, also a ‘genius performer’ (in case such specimen would exist) applies his own emotional capacities to fill the score with the living intensity of his/her imagination, to let the music come into its own. All other approaches are mere rape and prostitution.

    • Patrick says:

      Thank goodness we have geniuses like you to discern what the rabble is unable.

    • Erwin says:

      To continue our discussion that started on the Barenboim/Beethoven thread (hopefully without user “Milka”): you see, that’s why I think the art of interpretation is going into the wrong direction. A classical pianist like IP can still be a popular, succesful “star”, loved by many, they even offer him an important contract, while at the same time we think he distorts pieces of Chopin and Brahms beyond recognition. If quite a few aficionados think Pogorelich really “set worldwide standards”, what does say that about changing tastes in performance practise?

    • Paul Davis says:

      Surely: worldwide standards of groteskery…

  • Musicologist says:

    After so much waiting, Pogorelich is recording again! This is probably the most important fact for contemporary pianism, and a beautiful news of course. Pogorelich is one of the best pianists of all times, his “eccentricity” is the only one of the arguments about that, because all great artist of the past had it – el Greco, Beethoven, van Gogh, Stravinsky, Picasso, etc… His music is so live… every single note moving by its expression… I’m very happy for the really great news!

    • Pedro says:

      I have heard him live a few weeks ago and his playing was technically perfect with plenty of new ideas, some of them terrific and others less so. That’s what true art should be IMHO.

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

    It is exactly 21 years since Ivo Pogorelich made his last recordings for DG. He recorded Chopin/Four Scherzi in September 1995 (release date: October 1998) and he recorded Mussorgsky/Pictures At An Exhibition & Ravel/Valses nobles et sentimentales in August 1995 (release date: February 1997).

  • Jonathan Sutherland says:

    A few years ago Anthony Tommasini wrote in The New York Times of Pogorelich: “here is an immense talent gone tragically astray. What went wrong?”.

    • la Verita says:

      Mr. Tommasini wrote that review after Pogorelich’s disastrous 2007 Met Museum recital, when it took him 3 hours to play 50 minutes of music! Not one piece was recognizable, and from an audience of about 700, perhaps 10 people remained in their seats by the end. People were running for the exits throughout the evening, amidst catcalls and boos. It was the most irresponsible, pathetic “performance” imaginable, and Pogo was completely unaware that he was making a total fool of himself. That evening had all the makings of a new Andrew Llloyd-Webber show that could rival “Sunset Boulevard”.

      • Eric says:

        I was at that recital and your account of how many remained does not match my memory. His playing moved beyond the comprehension of narrow pedants and was an incredicle exploration I have not heard the likes of. He surely knew exactly what he was doing and could have cared less whether you understood or not; what choice do artists have when they make leaps few can follow? Stay behind and entertain you as you further close your imagination?

  • Salty Doc says:

    Idagio: I’ve been waiting for more than a year for them to get the rights or whatever to distribute in the US. I occasionally email a “when” inquiry and generally receive a “we’re working on it” kind of reply. Does anyone “out there” have any insider information on this?

    • Lukas says:

      Hi Salty Doc,
      this is Lukas from IDAGIO – in case you haven’t heard it yet: IDAGIO is now officially available in the US and Canada.
      Let us know if you have any questions or feedback.
      Best regards

  • Chris says:

    Idagio.com is NOT available in Canada. Pity as I would like to have heard Pogorelich’s “return” having heard his debut recordings.

    • Lukas says:

      Dear Chris,
      this is Lukas from IDAGIO. It’s been a while since you commented this post, but I just wanted to let you know that IDAGIO is now available in the US and Canada.
      Best regards

  • daveferre says:

    His recital in Warsaw in 2015 was the worse thing I’ve ever heard.


  • Una says:


    Nice interview done again by Bruce Duffie in Chicago with Pogorelich. Have a read!


  • La Verita says:

    Pogorelich’s performances from the 1980 Chopin Competition can be found on youtube, and while there’s no doubting his talent, an informed musician can clearly hear why the jury didn’t vote him into the final round: His playing, so completely arrogant & distorted, displayed an interpretive approach designed to draw attention to the performer rather than to the music, and thus Chopin was his victim. One wonders what Argerich would say now if she were to watch those 1980 videos, but let’s not give her all the credit for Pogorelich’s career: the lower factions of the Warsaw audience had already bought into his leather pants, silk shirts, and campy stage deportment (as did the public at the Montreal competition 6 months earlier), so the dye had been cast. The man had charisma, period. And then, for the next 16 years or so – until his wife’s death, his playing blossomed and he did some splendid work. But “Pogorelich the pianist” died a long time ago – and what remains is a sorry shell of what he once was.

  • A pianist says:

    Genius or mad nowadays, the great pianist Ivo Pogorelich evidently was once deserves today something more than just that review, which shows such a little interest in music itself. But aniway it remains the only comment by an international journalist on Pogorelich’s new recording: not a word has been said about the two Beethoven’s sonatas. This is shamefuly fool, disrecpectful journalism.

  • javi says:

    most pianists stay in the technical academic sphere of music, ivo goes much higher, inspires, he has a muse…many.
    ivo is way beyond sound, he has the most powerful, perfect and beautiful union of the three elements of music; form, harmony and melody.

    he is the best interpreter ever, surpassing maria callas and horowitz, and he is at the level of the greatest composers to whom he seems to play for.

    “Chopin´s playing evoked all the sweet and sorrowful voices of the past. Chopin sang the tears of music…in a whole gamut of different forms and voices, from that of the warrior to those of children and angels…”
    Bohdan Zaleski, polish poet, personal diary 2 feb 1844.

    “Under the fingers of Chopins´s hand the piano became the voice of an archangel, an orchestra, an army, a raging ocean, a creation of the universe, the end of the world.”
    Solange Clesinger.

    Ivo is the archetype of the modern artist, the isolated and courageous master, who finds his own way to new heights of expression, no matter the prejudices or the barriers of misunderstanding raised against him. He stands alone at the beginning of a new epoch like a prophet, mapping the routes that art would take.

    Pogorelich´s cathartic and mystical sound, is concerned with the ultimate mysteries that transcend this world. His grandiose, colossal and majestic art, symbolizes the struggle of the human soul to find release from the bonds of its material body. His exquisite and overwhelming music continues to echo throughout the entire performance and beyond, so the action is at once momentary, eternal and complete.

    Pogorelich´s interpretations are indescribably beautiful and irresistible. His sound is pure poetry and extremely emotional, yet entirely unsentimental. We are hypnotized by his new and radical naturalness, by his nobility, dignity, severity and sobriety; transporting us to states of wonder, ecstasy, meditation, love and compassion.

    Sound and Silence, Life and Death, Time and Space; collapse into the Eternal moment of Infinity.

  • Al Fonso says:

    After watching the documentary of Ivo and gaspard de la nuit it is painfully clear he is merely a puppet following his teacher’s lessons, once Alice passed on he came up with excuse after excuse not to play and it shows. This documentary is available on youtube, the insight of all his interpretations prior to her death are all hers, Ivo sits next to her with no clue as to how to approach gaspard.

    nuff said

  • Plush says:

    I would love to hear the new release. Idagio is not a serious company unless they can make the releases available in the USA.

    As far as Ivo is concerned, he appeared at Wheaton College near Chicago one time and offered a master class. He spent three hours on the first 3 notes of the piece.

    Pogorelich was controlled and guided by his late wife. Without her, apparently, he has come off the tracks. He derailed.