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This is a major release of music by Julius Isserlis (1888-1968), the Russian-born grandfather of the guest cellist in this fabulous performance of the A minor Ballade. Julius studied composition with Taneyev and piano with Widor. We get only seven of the ten Preludes of Op 2 as the rest remain unaccessible in Moscow. But there is so much to enjoy here, not least Sam Haywood’s always affectionate and often passionate playing. The said Preludes are wonderfully melancholic in a distinctly Russian vein, with No 10 being distinctly Brahmsian with a Russian accent, and No 2 more than nodding to Rachmaninov. There is fun here, too (the Prélude exotique and the delightful Toccata in Fourths), but possibly the most memorable performance is the stunningly beautiful Meditation from the Op 8 Klavierstücke. The recording is first class and there are expert booklet notes by Rachel Isserlis.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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