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David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2010

We return to Idil Biret’s first LP for the Sixth volume in the ‘Biret Archive Edition’, the disc made in 1959 when she was just turned seventeen. Already graduated from the Paris Conservatoire two years earlier, having been a pupil of Alfred Cortot, she had made recordings for broadcast, but these were her first commercial sessions. It was for the Pretoria label, and it was unusual at that time for such young musician to offered a contract for nine LPs. It was also her first taste of recording in ‘chunks’ to be later edited and joined together, something she was always later to resist. Shortly after its issue the label vanished from the market making this disc a rarity. The performances have that feel of ‘an old head on young shoulders’, the accounts thoughtful, unhurried and showing she already had firm views on the shaping and phrasing of Schumann’s often illusive Fantasiestücke. Turn to the warmth and gentle grace of Warum or the unease of In der Nacht, to sample the very differing moods she introduces, with the final Ende vom Lied becoming a powerful statement. In her younger years Biret was much influenced by Wilhelm Kempff, and you could imagine these performances of the Brahms three Intermezzi coming from him. Introspective in the first; the second as if playing for her own pleasure; the third an extended passage of beauty. The sound quality is variable, and one suspects that much work has been done to manage the transfer from an LP pressing.

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