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Beautifully played and well recorded, First and Last Words is a fascinating concept. Kim shapes the early Abegg Variations with finesse and golden tone, eschewing the hard edge of a Pollini for a more fantastical approach. The ‘last word’ of Schumann is the Ghost Variations, which inhabits an altogether more interior space, Kim allowing this sense of exploration to roam free.

The early Schnittke piece is the Five Preludes and Fugues of 1953/4. A host of influences (Schumann, Brahms, Shostakovich, Myaskovsky) informs a kaleidoscopic journey: perhaps the granitic fourth (D minor) is the most impressive, its chords beautifully weighted at all dynamic levels. Written some 37 years later, the Aphorisms are fragmentary explorations of a musical space, a different musical world but one which Kim understands just as keenly.

The tiny font size in the booklet is something of a hinderance to all but the most keen-eyed.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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