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This is the fifth recording by Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son, double silver medallist at the 2009 Van Cliburn and 2011 Tchaikovsky Competitions, but only the second devoted to a single composer (a Chopin double album from Universal is currently unavailable). A note of melancholy: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21 was the last recording made by Sir Neville Marriner.

What a sparkling performance it is! Marriner bringing a lifetime of experience to produce an accompaniment of youthful energy to match that of the soloist a third of his age. Yeol’s acuity at the keyboard should come as no surprise, especially in this work, which has been in her repertoire for many years (including the Tchaikovsky Competition). The opening Allegro maestoso is exactly that, fast and majestic, its grandeur subtly drawn in what is one of Mozart’s finest creations. Her phrasing of the celebrated Andante is a model of restraint and delicacy, reminiscent of Curzon at his best (he is my benchmark here). The finale breezes along, a model of harmony between soloist and orchestra.

The remaining three works are unaccompanied, their sequence nicely structured and contrasted (though all three works are in C major). First comes a relative rarity, the delightful set of nine variations on the arietta ‘Lison dormait’ from the opera Julie by Mozart’s older contemporary Nicolas (aka Alexandre) Dezède (c1740-92). Yeol’s brilliant account of the 10th Sonata rivals Christian Blackshaw’s Wigmore account; and her polished interpretation of the Fantasy in C minor concludes a rather fine disc.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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