Hello Monica, I was never a fan of Pollini's tempos and musicianship in the Etudes even as a kid. From your assessment, it seems not much has changed even though his routine string breaking days have long passed. I felt that his fast tempos were analogous to eating a gourmet meal so fast that one couldn't "taste" the music nor the sonorities. I have been listening to a fine French pianist lately, Alexandre Tharaud, and some of his Chopin playing is truly exquisite.
There is a unique and innate quality to these Nocturnes that make them different than all other works of Chopin... If Etudes glitter, then the Nocturnes glow. I think it's that inner sublime quality that appeals to the listener's core. At some point in our lives, we are all beckoned to return to the Nocturnes...
Hello again, George (I just sent you a long email....).
Well said - you just made me feel like playing a nocturne right now! Perfect day for it too, since it's raining and I can't do any gardening.