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Richard Watkins holds the Dennis Brain Chair at the Royal Academy; fitting, then, that he comes into competition with the Brain/Matthews account of the Beethoven sonata. Watkins and Drake are not quite so attuned as their seniors: Drake dwells overmuch on the appoggiaturas early on; Watkins plays them in time, his technique rock-solid, his interpretation finely considered.

The father and son Strausses here offer a fascinating comparison, although it is possibly a step too far for Watkins’ booklet claim that Franz, with regards to Richard, is an ‘equally capable composer’. Franz Strauss’ Notturno, Op 7 rises to an impassioned climax; if it has enigmas, they are multiplied exponentially in Richard Strauss’ Andante.

Schumann’s famous Adagio and Allegro is the finest performance here, the top C shining, the dynamism undeniable. If Drake is a touch underpowered in Dukas’ Villanelle, the Poulenc Elégie is a fine account. An enjoyable recital, well recorded.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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