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After many less than convincing years, the Leeds International Piano Competition finally located a remarkable pianist in 2012: Federico Colli is a risk-taking artist who possesses razor-sharp technique and a personality the reverse of politically correct. Not since Horowitz has there been a more vivid or compulsive Scarlatti recording.

In Colli’s hands every sonata tells its own magnetic tale, contrasting quirkiness with relative normality, vivacity with introspection. Th e Sonata in G major K427 comes at you like a burst of fireworks, and if all is seemingly calm in K318 (F-sharp major), an underlying spirit of adventure is never far away. Colli’s virtuosity transforms the harpsichord’s thunder and glitter into a transfixing pianistic experience, while in sonatas such as K87 (B minor) his sense of contemplation never erases flawless lines and phrases. Throughout, his playing has an almost palpable feeling of concentration and intensity.

A pianist who delights in surprises, Colli brings his programme to a teasingly enigmatic close with the pizzicato pattering of K95 (C major). To crown this truly wonderful issue, Colli reveals himself as no less powerful a writer than pianist. His accompanying essay, which could be entitled ‘Against Smoothness’, is a potent corollary to his performances. This is a superb release from the most scintillating and personal of all young artists.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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