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At 23, Martin James Bartlett is already a pianist of rare poise and command. His debut album for Warner, entitled Love and Death, tells you that he is both a virtuoso of dreaming and drama. His Bach-Busoni and Bach-Hess are as poised and finely graded as you could wish. If his Petrach Sonnets are more interior and less volatile than some (Horowitz in No 134 – ‘I fear yet hope, I burn yet am turned to ice’), his natural fluency and grace are a joy. Alicia de Larrocha would have applauded Bartlett’s poetic empathy in Grandos’ ‘Amor y la muerte’, that masterpiece of both tragedy and incandescence, and in the Wagner-Liszt Liebestod his variety is memorable at every level of the dynamic spectrum. Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata is no less successful in a radically different idiom. Bartlett’s opening Allegro is skittering and malignant and even at a blistering pace and in pages where an idea of manic insistence expands across the keyboard, he never loses control. Here is a pianist of present glory rather than future potential.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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