I know this is a ridiculous question, but I’d be curious on what the consensus is with this… if you could only pick ONE. I originally meant to leave it unbounded as long as the pianist left recordings, but noticing how space restricted the polls were I’m splitting it up in four - 78, LP, CD, FLAC/Mp3.
I’ve included 10 of the most lauded contenders above which can reasonably be said to belong to the CD era (as many as the poll allows), but there are numerous others of course. If your pick isn’t included -> comments.
Fascinating bit of trivia-- on this list, only 3 of the performers have played the Rach Sonata 2 (Doc, BB, Pogo), and that piece isn’t something any of them are really identified with. Interesting commentary about contemporary pianism.
Ten years ago I would have said Volodos, but as said, I don’t like his direction these days. It sounds like he’d rather be a Kempff instead of a Horowitz.
Hamelin needs to be playing less Schubert and Schumann to get back to where he was.
Pogo…well…I…um…he used to be great, I can’t come to terms with him today (though some of his new approach is fascinating).
Argerich bores me now. I know she plays a lot of chamber music now which is new to her repertoire, but for solo and concerto works, I just can’t rate her anymore because she’s so limited in what she plays I don’t consider her an active solo or concerto performer.
I’ve hit the pause button on Sokolov. I am not inspired by his repertoire over the past several years.
Kissin has grown on me, though with that hard tone of his he needs to better harness it by letting loose more.
BB I just can’t get into. To me he sounds like a bad blend of Kissin and Hamelin.
Lupu sounds pretty but I haven’t been interested in anything he’s done since he was much younger.
So for me, depending on the day, it’s KZ or Pletnev from the above list.
Truth be told I was left with just 9 names when I brainstormed this one, and Berezovsky was the first extra candidate which sprang to mind. Briefly ca 1997-2001 he was an exciting live pianist who I think left some really good things, in the virtuoso department, but he is lesser than the other names here and Brew’s right that Freire would have been a better option.
I couldn’t agree more re Hamelin’s current rep choices, but at the same I do agree with Harrison about Beethoven! It’s one of those unlikely combinations in music, but I think he often plays him really well. The recent Appassionata maybe not so much, but his Op.90 was my favourite rec of the work for quite some time, and he’s recently done a good LvB-4 as well.
Yes, there’s lots of contenders already, but I think Pletnev’s Amsterdam recital in Feb is the concert of the year for me. Not since it necessarily was the best, but it took weeks or months before I had fully wrapped my head around it, and it took you on journeys at least I’ve never had in music before.