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As Alessio Bax confesses in his accompanying note, Italy is more readily associated with opera than instrumental music. But he is nothing if not exploratory, and throughout this diverse programme his playing has a stylistic elegance known only to the finest pianists. He is as sensitive in nuance as he is crisp in definition in Bach’s Concerto after Marcello and, veering widely in another direction, he substitutes poetry for edge in Rachmaninov’s Corelli Variations.

He journeys from lyricism to economy in Dallapiccola’s Quaderno musicale di Annalibera, and if no one has equalled Wilhelm Kempff’s early Decca recording of Liszt’s Légendes, Bax’s performance of the first is nonetheless haunting and reflective. Finally, he turns up the heat, roaring and confiding Liszt’s rhetoric in the Dante Sonata to magnificent effect, with a truly visceral impact in the final bars. This is a most distinguished disc, finely recorded.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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