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This disc examines how composers are influenced by the world around them. Ives is a prime instance, and Stefanovich gives one of the finest performances of the huge, lesser-known First Piano Sonata. Ives utilises material from earlier works and characteristically references popular musics. Recordings of the Second Sonata far outnumber the First, but Stefanovich persuades us this should not be so, confidently projecting Ives’ vast universe.

Stefanovich’s reading of the Bartók Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs is one of the richest in the catalogue. The influence of South Indian Carnatic music pervades Messiaen’s Cantéyodjayâ. This chiseled, uncompromising music suits Stefanovich perfectly. It is a stroke of genius to juxtapose Messiaen with Bach, the Aria variata alla maniera italiana, played with a finger clarity reminiscent of Argerich’s Bach.

Luminously played, recorded with great presence and with a playing time just short of 80 minutes, this is an unmissable disc.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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