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Mussorgsky, Debussy & Liszt

Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition
Debussy Estampes
Liszt Sposalizio: Les Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este
& Ave Maria, Die Glocken von Rom

Llŷr Williams (piano)

SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 226 [2009, 74 mins]

Wyastone Estate's concert hall, where Nimbus is based in Monmouthshire, is serving as an excellent recording studio, and many fine discs are emanating from there.

This one has one of the best Pictures at an Exhibition of modern times and some special Liszt playing, caught in gorgeous sonority. The Debussy has a welcome clarity, without the wash of pedalled colour in a recent live performance reviewed, and the Pictures make this a disc not to be missed, even if you have one or two others. It is, perhaps, a little sober in comparison with the extravagances of a Horowitz, or indeed Ravel's orchestration, but Williams' maintenance of underlying pulse and superb toning within chords is exemplary, even if this studio performance is not quite so overwhelming as The Guardian's AC found it live at Wigmore Hall.

Do see, and get to know Llŷr a bit, his short video, which shows how survival is possible from what sounds to have been the worst possible start, with what could easily have been offputting local piano teaching; persistence and determination paid off...

Certainly Pictures to grace anyone's collection.

Peter Grahame Woolf