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Even in a crowded marketplace of great recordings (Lupu, Katchen and Curzon in the Sonata; Anda, Michelangeli and Katchen in the Paganini Variations) Nelson Goerner joins these heady ranks with playing as moving as it is imperious. Less rhapsodic and subjective than Lupu in the sonata, he creates a fine balance between sense and sensibility. An epic performance of an epic work – one where, for Clara Schumann, ‘the young eagle has spread his wings’ – everything is finely graded within Brahms’ storming rhetoric. There is heartfelt inwardness in the Andante espressivo, prefaced by the words ‘the twilight falls, the pale moon gleams, two hearts unite, embraced in rapture’, and a magnificent, triumphant homecoming in the Finale’s coda.

Again in the Paganini Variations ( for Clara Schumann, daunted by their demands, these were ‘witch variations’) Goerner’s clarity and command are absolute – there is never a hint of opacity that can threaten even the finest Brahms pianists. Granted, no one is more magisterial than Michelangeli or more fanciful than Anda in these variations, but Goerner brings his own authority to every bar. A superb addition to his rapidly expanding discography.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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