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The elusive pianist Nelson Freire is on sterling form for these two pianistic pinnacles. Freire’s articulation and patrician gravitas are reminiscent of Arrau (as is his sparing pedal, although not as extreme as that pianist’s). Lyricism is at the heart of his playing and informs everything he does. This can mean that the fiery side of Beethoven can suffer. After a mesmeric slow movement, with Freire’s tone miraculously luminous, the Rondo’s shock beginning is underplayed. Beethoven’s last sonata emerges better, with Freire finding some ruggedness in the opening movement (and honouring the rigour of the counterpoint), while the finale is an oasis of calm.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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