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This is the penultimate issue in Angela Hewitt’s admirable Beethoven sonatas cycle (the Hammerklavier Sonata – the so-called ‘Mount Everest of the keyboard’ – will provide an epic conclusion). Once again all her classic virtues are to the fore. She is crisp and has unfaltering verve in Op 2/1 (both a reminder of Haydn and an advance into new territory). Playing as clean as a whistle makes it impossible even to think of a smudged note or telescoped phrase (cf Schnabel). And if there is more sense than sensibility in Op 14/2 (a few bars of Kempff remind you of qualities above and beyond musical and technical proficiency) there is also an admirable sense of i’s perfectly dotted and t’s perfectly crossed. Hewitt’s Waldstein is more measured, less con brio than some yet everything is as clear-sighted as you could wish. The finale of Op 54 is taken at a true allegretto rather than, say, Richter’s manic presto or Kempff’s teasing and inimitable chiaroscuro. Yet overall, wit, charm and a sense of whimsy are hardly part of Hewitt’s formidable arsenal, and you end by wondering if the inner light and life of these works eludes her.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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