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Bortkiewicz & Nares

Two composers that you too might not know?

Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952) has been denigrated as 'derivative' but if you like Liszt, Schumann, Chopin you will enjoy this in depth Hyperion Dyad survey of his piano music, annotated by Stephen Coombs who proves himself a powerful advocate in this contribution to his many recordings of Russian romantics. I have a penchant for music I don't know, and enjoyed this more than another nth performance of the canonic standards in the repertoire. Some of the Lamentations and Consolations will stand rehearing better than the rather formulaic Sonata Op 9. Coombs notes 'the complete absence of any musical development between the early Op 3 pieces and his last surviving works'.

Splendid performance and recording, and the notes comprehensive, as if a thesis. At 2-for-the-price-of-one, worth adding to a collection of 20 C piano music which harks back to the previous century [Hyperion CDD22054].

James Nares (1715-1783) is something quite other and this is a release of highest importance from several points of view. His Sets of Harpsichord Lessons as given by Julian Perkins yield nothing to the harpsichord music of, say, Purcell and Handel (who is represented by one of his Suites); I dare not mention composers of the period beginning with B...

Avie has nurtured an extraordinary project, aptly compared by Perkins with the support by subscription customary in the eighteenth century. He lists three columns of generous contributors, plus many organisations and notabilities who made the recording possible... The music was recorded in The Queen's Drawing Room at Kew Palace, London and there is a large array of beautiful illustrations and artwork, with photos of the contemporary Kirkman and Shudi harpsichords played.

Forget downloading; this is a delectable totality, having a 28 page booklet produced with such care as to equal the pleasure and delight brought by the music itself in the idiomatic vivacity and sensibility of these lovely performances. The sponsors will feel their money was well spent [Avie AV152].

Peter Grahame Woolf