For me the Eroica Variations with final Fugue (Beethoven’s Opus 35) is Annie Fischer (formidable) or Emil Gilels (“wrapped in granite”), both by chance on BBC Legends. Florian Feilmair (born 1989) isn’t quite their equal although he is attractively fluid and lithe, able equally to propel forward energetically as he is to relax into reverie. And it says something for his craft that he survives a dry acoustic and also does himself no favours by loudly stabbing at some treble notes, enough to give them an unlikeable metallic characteristic from his Yamaha instrument manufactured in 1997.
Hänssler has done well to get this release out so quickly (it was recorded in September last year and has been hanging around on my desk for a couple of months), and Feilmair’s characterful musicianship continues with impressive accounts of the compact C-minor Variations (WoO80) and those in G-major, a gregarious set (WoO77) requiring a twinkle-in-the-eye approach and nimble fingers, both of which Feilmair provides.
Rounding things off is Beethoven’s farewell to the Sonata, the one for Piano in C-minor, Opus 111. In what seems slightly more agreeable reproduction (maybe the microphones were adjusted for the second day of recording or my ears had got used to the aridness), Feilmair arrests, probes and drives the first movement (exposition repeated) yet avoids relentlessness by some well-timed diversions, without losing threads, and then his diminuendo to close the first movement nicely sets up the heavenly Arietta of the second (final) movement that spawns so much variety, which Feilmair unfolds in a concentrated span, his eye fixed on what is the simplest of endings, a singular distillation of earlier complexities. I certainly want to hear him again. Hänssler Classic HC19070.