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British pianist Alexander Soares is enjoying a growing reputation as an interpreter of modern French piano music; this is his debut album. He starts with Dutilleux’ phenomenal, under-rated Piano Sonata, finding Messiaen-like glowing spirituality in the harmonies of the central Lied while retaining its ominous underpinnings. It is a fine account. Dedicatee Geneviève Joy holds a specific place in the work’s recording history, and John Chen and John Ogdon offer strong competition, but Soares’ account is compelling. The Préludes each explore a specific mood or technique to which Soares is perfectly attuned.

The two Boulez pieces are separated by some 60 years. Notations finds Soares matching virtuosity and exploratory curiosity, fierce competition for Pierre-Laurent Aimard and David Fray. Une page d’éphémeride is wonderfully mysterious.

The two Messiaen offerings begins with a subalpine warbler (1963) singing in a dazzling sun. The posthumously-published Prélude (1964), in kinship with Vingt Régards, is a brilliant way to close.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2019 - ©Rhinegold Publishing