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Finally, I have to mention the important new GEGA CDs by Vesselin Stanev. I have five of them, all recorded at Bulgaria Concert Hall between 2000 and 2003, excellently recorded. Hopefully, an earlier release will be sent on to me.

Gega GD219 features Chopin's 24 Preludes Op 28, Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit and the revised version of Rachmaninov's Sonata No 2.

The Chopin is a strong performance overall, with some brilliant bravura playing in the stormy Preludes, like 21 and 24, but rather 'ordinary' in the relaxed numbers. The penultimate, Prelude 23, is faster than the moderato marking. The Ravel, a favourite of the performer, who considers it a major work in the composer's output, is outstanding; with stunning fingerwork in Ondine, just the right introspection for Le Gibet, and a frightening Scarbo. The Rachmaninov Sonata has panache, but lacks the colourful brilliance and authority of Konstantin Scherbakov. 68'08".

Gega GD241 features Schumann's Fantasia in C and Liszt's Sonata in B minor.

The clarity of the Schumann is admirable. What is lacking is a sense of perspective. Moiseiwitsch's singing line and Kempff's half-tones are simply absent, while the inter-relation of tempi -- ie the middle section of the second movement should be more relaxed than the march figure -- needs more thought in preparation. The Liszt is a young man's performance at 26'54". The fugue section through to the coda requires greater fire and depth. Brilliant fingerwork. 56'11".

Gega GD274 features Beethoven' Eroica Variations and Schumann's Kreisleriana.

Vesselin Stanev plays Beethoven and Schumann
Vesselin Stanev plays Beethoven and Schumann

The Beethoven is magnificent; on a par with Clifford Curzon. The Schumann is OK, but ultimately requires greater sense of mystery, with alternating episodes of hesitancy and controlled frenzy. 49'16".

Gega GD 288 features Brahms: Six Pieces Op 118, Seven Fantasias Op 116 and Variations on a Theme by Paganini, books 1 and 2.

The finest solo Brahms on disc since Backhaus and Gieseking (Opp 118/116) and Petri (Paganini Variations).

Gega GD 289 features Chopin: 12 Etudes Op 10; 12 Etudes Op 25.

Amazing clarity of fingerwork, but the definitive Chopin rubato is missing, Op 10 No 3 being a case in point. More 'persuasiveness' is required in the relaxed poetic numbers, but the stormy minor-keyed Etudes and the brighter, keen-edged ones are mainly fine. The Trois Nouvelles Etudes would have made the release more 'complete'.

Copyright © 8 April 2004 Bill Newman, Edgware UK

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