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The noted Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger, born in Berlin in 1962, is now in mid-career. Very Helvetian indeed in his punctilious, neat, sometimes slightly clipped phrasing, Haefliger expresses the classical idiom with admirable clarity, without over-stressing imposed narrative elements that might give extra vivacity to the performances. Instead, Haefliger lets the music speak for itself, even to a fault, when in some repetitious passages extra personal inflections might have created a more dramatic or lively result. Beethoven’s Sonata Op 14 No 2 is rendered as light, blithe and a trifle winsome.

The same composer’s Op 109 is perhaps brittle sounding compared to more overtly powerful versions of this late work recorded by others, but these are firmly idiomatic renditions. The same is true of Schumann’s Fantasie, an Apollonian, philosophically lofty version in the tradition of Wilhelm Kempff, if sometimes a bit tidy and matter-of-fact rather than swept away by romantic passion or impulse. This CD is the sixth in a worthy series in which Haefliger juxtaposes Beethoven with related composers, a refreshing exception to the stultifying custom of single-composer recitals and CDs. Further variety comes from four of Luciano Berio’s Six Encores, written between 1965 and 1990. These are not encores in the sense of virtuoso displays, but rather Italianate examples of meditative lyricism with sound laboratory research effects that will appeal to brainier fans of contemporary music. Haefliger renders them with clarity and a sobriety of purpose that recalls the gravity of his much-admired father, tenor Ernst Haefliger (1919-2007).

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing