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Encores (Daniel Barenboim)

Daniel Barenboim (piano) (DG)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Works by Albéniz, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Liszt, Schubert and R Schumann
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
DG 486 0932   54:05 mins


An encore is an extra gift that an artist gives an audience at the end of a concert. How then, without context, to capture that moment of generosity in the recording studio – and not just once, but enough times to fill a whole disc with encores? Why not simply title ‘Famous Romantic Piano Pieces’?

The answer lies, I’d argue, in mood. Recorded during the era of coronavirus lockdowns, when live audiences and full concert halls were a fanciful dream, Barenboim nonetheless creates an intimacy that makes each piece feel special, playing with consummate eloquence. There’s a meditative feel to much of the music, a sense of quiet focus. The rippling serenity of Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat, which opens the disc, sets the tone. But I could point also to the exquisite reverie of Schumann’s Träumerei, with the phrasing just so, or the languid melody of the same composer’s Das Abends.

If the fire of Schumann’s Aufschwung doesn’t burn as brightly as I would like, nor the turmoil of Chopin’s Etude No. 4 in C sharp minor, Op. 10 feel as passionate as it might, then there are other joys. The tiny rubatos in Schubert’s Moments musicaux No. 3, for instance, or the pure poetry he evokes with Debussy’s Clair de Lune. It’s an album that repays repeat listenings.

Rebecca Franks

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