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Nor is Ms Baytelman afraid of taking her time as she finds the subtlest variance within the course or a single phrase. Witness her exceptionally poetic reading of the migratory Albaicín [listen -- track 7], to which she lends its immanent harmonic wanderlust just the right touch of sadness. Few pianists have delivered the divine El Polo, a passionate lament in the orbit of a dance of seductive syncopes, as gloriously as Ms Baytelman [listen -- track 8]. And who could fail to imagine Madrid's famous bohemian district, Lavapiés, its narrow streets awash in the aromatic breezes of an urban summer, when portrayed as intensely as it is in this vivacious reading [listen -- track 9]?

In some ways, Ms Baytelman puts me in mind of Elizabeth Schwarzkopf; not only for the unimpeachable technique, but for an interpretive savoir-faire the principal capital of which is its grasp, on the minutest level, of inflection. For this pianist, every compositional event is a change of climate, an occasion to be explored and illuminated from innumerable perspectives. Where less skilled pianists would just assume stomp their feet at every syncope, grounding the music mercilessly into the dust with the fervor of a bullfighter, Ms Baytelman gives way to the rarefied refinements of metaphor and concept. Her tone is rich and seductive, drawing as it does the listener into its orbit with extraordinary discretion, but also with a kind of measured abandon that allows the music to speak as well as dance. Indeed, I would be hard put to identify any pianist, save Michel Block, who navigates the central arabesque of the Moorish Jérez so profoundly and with such exquisite, contained fervor [listen -- track 11]. Here, Ms Baytelman's refined music making, informed by her meticulous study of Albéniz's manuscripts, melts any resistance to its charm, and is, to put it mildly, sublime.

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Copyright © 7 July 2001 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA







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