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David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2013

In her younger years the Turkish-born pianist, Idil Biret, recorded for a number of companies, this disc made and first released by the French-based Vega label. It appeared right at the beginning of my own career as a record critic in 1962, and I recall it was a company whom you treated with suspicion as they were into the world of esoteric music, though today we know the contents of this disc as forming part of the standard repertoire. At the time it was right on the fringe, and would have been one of the few and earliest recordings of Prokofiev’s Seventh Piano Sonata. Likewise Biret was a relatively unknown to the record buyer, but seems to have been a somewhat precocious young woman. Today I hear the work countless times in piano competitions, as it is a marvellous showpiece of virtuosity that can be torn into with reckless energy. This reading from Biret avoids the cheap showmanship that impresses today’s competition juries, for this was contemporary music with the ink almost wet on the page. A studied view, is the only way I can describe it, for if you listen to those desolate tolling bells she creates in the second movement, you know that for the composer this work was not intended for facile histrionics. Neither here, nor in the Bartók, does she ever lack technical brilliance, the Allegro barbaro played with suitable impact, while her Romanian Folk Dances have a totally individual approach. Quite short—as the original LP length dictated—it has been excellently transferred to CD. © 2013 David’s Review Corner

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