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This feels like a luxury product, the two discs held within a gold-embossed coffee table book garnished with multiple illustrations. A touch of proof-reading would not have gone amiss (misspellings, including one of ‘Shumann’ himself, spoil the luxury effect); and in an offering where cross-referencing is invited, sensible numbering of tracks would have helped.

The actual performances are generally excellent, and Guembes-Buchanan’s Fazioli is well recorded so we get to relish the pianist’s sweetness of tone and sure legato. The Kinderszenen is tender and considered; long study has clearly gone into this reading. Pedalling is particularly impressive, and Guembes-Buchanan manages to avoid cliché in a remarkably fresh ‘Träumerei’.

We move to another sphere for Kreisleriana, whose opening swirling gesture carries great import; she honours the prolongations of the ‘Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch’ superbly, all the while giving the impression of an underlying unpredictability.

The Second Piano Sonata should be programmed more often. It is a magnificent work, as Guembes-Buchanan proves in a performance of much energy. It is a pity that Faschingsschwank is less stable, culminating in a right-hand miss in the melody in the Intermezzo at 1:13 (diffi cult to un-hear once it has made its mark, sadly).

The appendix is a sequence of fragments: the song Im Herbste arranged by J R Scheide is especially worthwhile, as is the placing of the Garcia fragment next to Op 98/8, which it so closely resembles. Previous releases by Guembes-Buchanan have impressed, notably Schubert Sonata D958 on Del Aguila. With the above caveats, so does this one, but the minuses preclude a five-star recommendation.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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