A tricky pair of (ripely recorded) performances to decide about, but neither are curate’s eggs, far from it. Beatrice Rana is sometimes immersed in the music, at other times less so, if technically immaculate in relationship to the notes being played. The first movement of the Chopin is a flurry of notes, occasionally smudgy in the left-hand (losing a certain silent-film ingredient, Chopin prophetic) with a much slower second subject, and, observing the repeat (including the brief introductory bars), literalness creeps in, although emotional tempests develop. The Scherzo is a dynamic affair, the Trio, nicely shaped, is perhaps a little too reflective. But then… the ‘Funeral March’, totally compelling and absorbing, with just the right amount of tread and sense of loss, the pathos-ridden contrast all-belonging … but then … the strange aphoristic final movement is underdone in pictorial terms – invariably a chill wind through a graveyard.

Rana charges through the first movement of the ‘Hammerklavier’ (Opus 106) at a tempo Beethoven subscribes to (Brendel, too). It’s impressive in terms of Rana not showing any strain, although a sense of struggle might be thought important, and Rana might be considered a little finicky with pedals and pauses, and if the Scherzo is puckish enough there is a lack of humour when it returns, here at 1:35, following diversions. But then… the slow movement, spacious (18:35) and sublime, expansive transcendentalism, wonderful. and the Finale, with its frenetic fugue (more than two hands needed), crackles with intent, Rana’s left-hand (a little subdued in Chopin’s first movement) now vividly aflame… tremendous! Warner Classics 5419789765 is released on March 8. I don’t forget Martin Roscoe.

Postscript: Sony Classical has released a recording (only in Japan it seems) of the ‘Hammerklavier’ by Valery Afanassiev that is, certainly in the first movement, the epitome of eccentricity.