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Fascinating programming easily lends this disc to recommendation, especially given Richard-Hamelin’s assured playing. The Beethoven Rondos are fine works (Brendel, Richter and Sokolov all left memorable versions) and Richard-Hamelin plays with with real affection and style. The Enescu comes up against Luiza Borac (Avie) and Maria Fotino (Pearl), the latter even more bell-like than Richard-Hamelin in the opening Toccata and more tender in the Sarabande. Yet Richard-Hamelin delivers a fabulous, lyrical Pavane, and convincingly highlights the Ravellian flavour of the final Bourée.

Richard-Hamelin’s Chopin is more mixed; he is at his best in the lyric moments of the Ballade and the crepuscular melancholy of the Nocturne. For Op 16, Richard-Hamelin sits somewhere in between Ian Hobson’s rather disconnected version (Zephyr) and Horowitz’s magnificence. By far Richard-Hamelin’s finest performance is the Polonaise, dramatic, broad and confident with the muscular bass well caught by the recording.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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