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This is quite an achievement – nearly all of Maxwell Davies’ piano output, an oeuvre that spans some 60 years (the earliest work is Parade, written when the composer was 15). The twofer also includes a fascinating 11-minute interview with the composer. The highlight of the set is the seven-movement Piano Sonata of 1981. Casey’s pianism is tremendous, especially in the more phantasmagorical sections; the recording supports his every move here, but in some pieces the lower mid and bass ranges can appear a trifle unfocused. The Sonata is the most substantial piece; many of the smaller pieces speak more simply (the Orkney-inspired Three Sanday Places and An Orkney Tune are a clear examples). Maxwell Davies’ transformations of works by Dunstable and Bull on the second disc (Sub Tuam Protectionem and Ut Re Mi) are pure joy, and pure Max. There are a number of premiere recordings here, to further enhance the musicological value of the set.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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