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This is the second instalment of Années de pèlerinage from Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi. As in his previous disc of Book 1, Piemontesi shows himself a pianist of exceptional refinement allied to consummate technical command (his ‘Orage’ from Book 1 is a truly awe-inspiring alpine storm). Everything is ‘worked’ and calculated to a hair’s breadth. Gone are the approximations of the past – the ‘careless rapture’ of a Cortot – and the final bars of the Dante Sonata are masterly even when compared with Volodos’ astonishing elaboration. The hushed resolution, with its near-Wagnerian harmonies, of ‘Sposalizio’ are a revelation of controlled beauty. Yet you only have to listen to Kempff in the Petrach Sonnet No 123 to hear a tonal iridescence that recreates the poet’s ‘I saw on earth angelic grace’ more hauntingly. Piemontesi’s accompanying DVD finds him glamorously lit in an orange and saffron surround with views of Como and Milan. His commentary includes a reminder of how the development of the piano’s range allowed Liszt a hitherto unknown quasi-symphonic splendour. The first of the Saint Francis Legends makes a substantial filler.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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