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Compensating for his late arrival on the international music scene, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s The Beethoven Connection is an intriguing addition to his already astonishing discography (including extensive cycles of Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel, Bartók and Prokofiev). In his programme note he speaks of those lesser- known peaks surrounding Beethoven’s Himalayan range, showing himself a Sherlock Holmes of the keyboard as well as a superb virtuoso as he winkles out connections and cross-references.

Joseph Wölfl’s Sonata opens with a clarion call to attention, and if the central Andante cantabile is brief it is alive with startling modulations. Again, in Clementi (whose sonatas formed a key part of Horowitz’s repertoire) there are enough surprises to enliven convention, while the Hummel Sonata has depths that belie its surface glitter. The Dussek Sonata is the most interesting of all, the first movement Lento patetico a prophecy of Romanticism to come. Throughout, Bavouzet, recorded in impeccable sound, is as fleet and engaging as ever, a pianist who possesses charm and exuberance in spades. This highly enterprising project is an invaluable addition to the catalogue.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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