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The Mussorgsky here is without doubt ego-led and narcissistic, with Say directing our attention to his sound, his affected way of tailing phrases. Technically, Say has no problems, but there is little sense of an overall span leading to the Great Gate – hence the palpable sense of anticlimax when it arrives. Richter’s famous Sofia performance drips with excitement; Say cannot compete. Janáček’s poignant statement fares better. Say captures the foreboding of the first movement well, while the second movement (‘Death’) combines held-breath tension with terror. Unfortunately, in the Prokofiev Seventh Sonata, Say comes up against Pollini (DG) and Richter, and cannot touch either. The accompanying DVD includes a film of a 2011 concert (the same music, but more focused), and a short film about the making of the recording.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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