Steffen Horn

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A pleasing program combining the well-known (Rachmaninoff Op. 23 and Prokofiev Op. 1), the lesser-known (Grieg Op. 65), and the little-known (Dusík Op. 45), pianist Steffen Horn's live concert recording offers performances as varied as the program. Horn's greatest achievement on this album is the Dusík Sonata No. 1, Op. 45. His playing here is clean and uncluttered, brilliantly accentuating the unusual harmonies written by the Czech Classical composer. The second-movement Adagio is stunning in its simplicity, and Horn's left hand provides a velvety backdrop for the noble and sentimental theme. When the music becomes busier, the velvet turns sadly to Velcro. The six Rachmaninoff preludes of Op. 23 seem to make demands that Horn is not quite able to deliver on, particularly in clarity and articulation of the left hand. While the more peaceful and lyrical sections are splendidly musical, the more virtuosic Second Prelude is marked with extra notes in chords and accompanimental figures that are simply blurred. A similar fate befalls the Prokofiev First Sonata, vacillating between moments of austerity and imprecision. The Grieg Lyrical Pieces, which join the Dusík Sonata as an enjoyable component of this album, are more attuned to Horn's strengths as an interpreter rather than a technician.

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