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This double CD enables listeners to enjoy and compare the sound-worlds of two beautiful instruments: a 1921 Bechstein concert grand and a Franz Brodmann fortepiano. Schiff gives a stunning performance of the Variations on the clear, crisp tones of the former, and then delivers a second, more introvert, rendition of the Variations on the Brodmann.

Why record the same piece twice? The CD sleeve notes – which are a delightful highlight of the package and well worth perusing – include a Q&A with Schiff. He states his desire to fight against the ‘globalisation’ of piano music, whereby ‘all composers and pianists sound frighteningly similar’ on their ubiquitous Steinways, and expresses his joy at exploring the forgotten sound-worlds of two beautifully different instruments.

While Schiff admits that his interpretation does not change between the different instruments, the two recordings offer a great deal of contrast. The Bechstein performance is brighter and altogether more vivid in its changes of mood; the Brodmann offers a richer palette of quieter colours and sonorities.

This recording is unique in its concept and delivered with perfect style and understanding by Schiff. Highly recommended!

Miriam Levenson Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing