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While this disc functions as a fascinating addendum to Angela Hewitt’s discography, its place is for hardened Hewitt fans only. Hewitt was not a prizewinner in 1980 – this is part of a series of discs of performances by unplaced pianists who went on to fame. All performances are live, and at times these unexpurgated accounts can make for uncomfortable listening. It is in the more intimate music that Hewitt triumphs. The Nocturne boasts beautifully spun legerdemain, the line impeccably bel canto. The Étude Op 10/5 is competition velocity and applause is rightly retained. Yet it is in the Préludes Op 28 Nos 9 and 12 that Hewitt makes strong individual statements. She finds a remarkable sense of the exploratory in the Polonaise. The previously excellent recording quality loses depth but gains close focus for the Mazurkas. The Sonata provides the most uncomfortable listening, often extremely splashy while sometimes nearly losing momentum.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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