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For Paderewski, no less, ‘after Chopin, Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano, and his writing encompasses the whole gamut of piano technique’. Sadly today, far from the Belle Époque that enshrines Moszkowski’s charm, much of his music has faded from the repertoire (though Etincelles, beloved by all those for whom wit and sparkle are top priorities, still appears as an encore). This makes one all the more grateful for Etsuko Hirose’s album, a rich compensation for the sadly discontinued Hyperion series by Seta Tanyel.

Following her magnificent album of Lyapunov’s Transcendental Etudes, Hirose continues with playing of extraordinary grace and fluency (though she can also turn the heat on, going out in a blaze of virtuoso glory at the close of the ‘Chanson bohème’ from Carmen). As always, her impeccable technique is subservient to musical ends. Etincelles may lack the ‘boggle factor’ of Horowitz or Volodos but is a winning alternative to more obviously dazzling versions. She brings liquid sonority and beguiling poise to the arrangement of Offenbach’s Barcarolle, while in Moszkowski’s slant on Tristan und Isolde ( for Earl Wild, preferable to Liszt’s famous setting) she revels in a wide dynamic spectrum. The pearly gleam of her sonority tells you she is incapable of making an ugly sound. Finely recorded, this disc is a winner.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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