First, let me say I own and have heard many, many, many performances of these two sonatas. I don't think any serious performer could stake a claim to pianistic fame without coming to grips with them. Many try, but only few succeed.
This is one of the successes. The first time I heard this recording, I was simply blown away. Even two decades later, this recording amazes me. Why? In it, Pollini demonstrates total command of his instrument in the service of a piercingly unique interpretation of Chopin's world. Other pianists may give you technical perfection or they may give you stunning interpretation, but rarely do you get both. Let's not forget Pollini exploded into international prominence by taking first place in the 1965 Chopin competition. I don't think the judging panels at these competitions are taken in by technical brilliance alone. Something more is asked and Pollini provided it in spades.
I do not understand why some people dismiss Pollini as too perfect, too cold, too rational. I think it's partly because so many people demand Chopin be interpreted in only one way - precious and delicate. The premise of Romanticism was the power and importance of human emotion and feeling in direct challenge to the depressing, dehumanizing forces taking place in the 19th century. Perhaps that's why we still like music of the Romantic period - we live in the dismal triumph of rationalism. Why limit Chopin's expression to precious and delicate? Why can't it be (and for Chopin, it was) a powerful statement? Pollini's performance of these works exemplifies the power and intensity of feeling: it probes, argues, demands, doubts, regroups, and never gives in.
I've had the pleasure of hearing Pollini perform three or four times in the last twenty years. He is alleged to be especially "cold" in his Beethoven performances, but his Beethoven one night brought me to tears in the concert hall.
Everyone is entitled to their Chopin (or Beethoven, or fill-in-the-blank) interpretation preferences, but it's a mistake to limit yourself to just one. I love Pollini's Chopin recordings, but I also love and appreciate some of the Chopin recordings of other pianists.
But make no mistake - this recording is one of the greatest Chopin performances ever committed to disc.