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To judge from some reviews already in print, Alice Sara Ott, only 21 when she recorded this disc, should have obeyed the unwritten rule young pianists generally follow when recording Beethoven: wait until you reach the age of 30. That’s what Lipatti, Pollini, Ashkenazy (with one exception about which he does not like to be reminded) and countless others have done. They know that that if you record Beethoven too early in your career, your efforts will always be compared unfavorably with those of others.

If, like some of this disc’s other reviewers, you listen to it with the sound of Richter, Solomon, Gilels or Brendel in your ears, you will probably find that it comes up short. But if – as I eventually did – you stop comparing it with your favourite recordings, you are likely to be impressed. Her Beethoven may not be as revelatory as her Liszt (the 12 Transcendental Etudes and E flat Concerto) and Tchaikovsky (the B flat minor Concerto), but it is certainly better than her rather dull Chopin (the Waltzes). In the ‘Waldstein’ she capably highlights the work’s harmonic digressions and almost delirious prestissimo finale. And in Op 2 No 3, she also does some splendid things: she makes light, with an ease approaching insouciance, of the first movement’s notoriously difficult double-note opening, the massive cadenza and the finale’s cascading runs, trills and sudden contrasts. The album is rounded off with a lovely performance of the composer’s beautiful Andante favori and one of his crazily comic ‘Rage Over a Lost Penny’, rendered not with its customary fierceness, but with unexpected elegance.

STEPHEN WIGLER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing