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This new album from German pianist Fabian Müller runs the gamut from head-spinning virtuosity to the interior, bittersweet world of Brahms – music memorably described by the essayist William Ritter as being like ‘the golden lustre of parks in autumn and the black and white of winter walks.’ The youthful Müller’s performances are deeply considered and entirely personal. As he himself puts it, ‘I wanted to wait until I was 50 to record these works, but I couldn’t wait that long’. There is a special inwardness to his way with the grisly ‘Edward’ Ballade, as well as a strong sense of storytelling, whether in the quixotic fight of No 3 or in the Schumannesque dreams of No 4.

From Op 10 to Op 117 is not such a wide step, revealing Müller’s sensitivity to Brahms at his most intimate and confiding. He is, however, less successful in Op 76, where an element of self-consciousness counters his strong poetic instinct. He can be heavy- handed in the delectable B minor Capriccio when compared (cruelly) to Rubinstein or Perahia, and is less haunting and grazioso than Myra Hess in No 3. But he passes on the glory of the final Capriccio’s soaring ecstasy with empathy and engagement. If elsewhere, the art of understatement – that of a Kempff, Lupu or Perahia – eludes him, it is a quality that will surely come later.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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