He is a pianist with a clean, bright though weighty, and refined sound, with exceptional clarity. His repertoire is extraordinarily wide. He frequently performs Bach
, and the Romantics such as Schubert
, but also the early modernists such as Prokofiev
. In the 1974 centenary celebrations of Arnold Schoenberg
's birth he played programs encompassing that composer's complete piano music in several major musical centers, and he later recorded the entire body of work. His repertoire also extends into the avant-garde; in 1972 he gave the world premiere of Luigi Nono
's Como una ola de fuerza y luz, (Milan, 1972) and recorded the work. He is also an enthusiastic performer of Boulez
's Second Piano Sonata, regarded by some as the most difficult of all piano sonatas. He has recorded extensively, committing to disc works by Schoenberg
, and many others.
Since the 1980s, Pollini has been widening his activities as a conductor. He frequently led concerts from the keyboard and has conducted orchestra concerts from the podium as well as leading operas. In 1987 he received the Ehrenring prize of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
. His piano career has the individualism achieved by only a few great artists, continuing to focus on contemporary music and including concert series of his own design at such prestigious venues as the Salzburg Festival (in 1995 and 1999) and Carnegie Hall (in the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons).