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Beethoven has not figured prominently in Kissin’s recorded repertoire to date, so this two-disc collection of live recordings is very welcome. The performances were made between 2006 (the Sonata No 3 and Les Adieux) and 2016 (the Appassionata) at a variety of venues around the globe: Seoul Arts Center; Le Corum, Montpellier; Carnegie Hall; the Concertgebouw; the Musikverein; and the Salle des Combins, Verbier.

DG have done a decent job with the varying instruments, locations and dates. Nevertheless, there are audible variances in sound quality, most markedly a somewhat two-dimensional feel to the Seoul Arts Center. Comparing Kissin’s account of Sonata No 3 with Paul Lewis’ on Harmonia Mundi confirms how flat the sound is for Kissin, some of whose louder bass notes sound decidedly ugly. Lewis also has the measure of this work, with a stronger sense of the music’s flow.

Matters improve elsewhere. In the Moonlight Sonata, Kissin’s vivid account makes a fine conclusion to the first disc (and explains why the 32 Variations were placed out of chronological sequence between the two early sonatas). Again, however, Harmonia Mundi’s more resonant recording creates a halo around Lewis’ account of the Moonlight’s opening Adagio sostenuto that is entrancing, where Kissin’s is curiously earthbound. In this and in the Appassionata, the late Anthony Goldstone (Divine Art) is also a strong rival with live-sounding accounts made in his own studio, coupled with the Pathétique. Kissin’s Les Adieux, Appassionata and Op 111 are undeniably exciting, superb live accounts and excellent second versions – but Lewis still reigns supreme.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2018 - ©Rhinegold Publishing