Pierre Boulez: Piano Sonatas
Each recording of the Boulez piano sonatas has a very definite character of its own, which may be reassuring to anyone who reckons that their rigorous organization eliminates the interpretative factor. Helffer's individuality lies partly in moments of impressionistic smoothing-over where Rosen (First and Third Sonatas on CBS now deleted) is ice-cool and Pollini (the second Sonata on DG) almost superhumanly clear. But he is by no means short on power and vehemence either when these are called for. There is a rival CD of all three sonatas from Herbert Henck on Wergo, brilliantly played, in fact rather more accurately than Helffer, but on a miserable-sounding instrument.
Apart from the high quality of playing and recording and the convenience of the package Helffer is indispensable to the specialist collector because of what he does in the Third Sonata. He alone takes the score at its word and omits some of the bracketed sections in ''Trope''; and he plays the sections of ''Constellation-miroir'' in the reverse of the published order, which can only be the alternative ''Constellation'' never released for publication by the composer. For the Second Sonata it has to be said that Pollini's accuracy, colour, articulation and structural paragraphing are in a class of their own.'