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With a marked change in presentation from the lavish book that accompanied her previous Schumann recording, Luisa Guembes-Buchanan offers a superb twofer entitled ‘Late Beethoven’. These performances take her to the very top echelon.

The centrepiece is a wide-ranging and intelligent interpretation of the Diabelli Variations. Guembes-Buchanan marries an awareness of the style of each variation with a fine feeling for the work’s architecture. Her strong fingerwork ensures that the crispness of the so-called ‘Don Giovanni’ variation is magnificent. By contrast, the simplicity of Variation 30 offers a key to her depth and rigour.

The second disc is finer still. Guembes- Buchanan is expert at finding the character of each Bagatelle, while her fluency, when required, is ideal. It is not exaggerating to put these readings up there with the likes of Brendel, Serkin and Schnabel. A sense of musicological rigour, too, hangs over the enterprise, with detailed, footnoted booklet notes by the pianist herself.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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