The English pianist Anthony Hewitt (b1971) is the winner of several competitions (though not, as the booklet claims, the William Kapell International Piano Competition – he was awarded joint second place in 1992 when no first prize was given). He is a remarkably gifted artist and though recordings of the Liszt Sonata are not exactly thin on the ground (roughly 70 are currently available) this account can hold its own with some of the finest. It is a pleasure to hear the left-hand figurations, such an important feature of the work, given due but not overwhelming prominence, allied to a superb leggiero touch and a beautifully even, silken sound.
Recordings of the Reubke Sonata by comparison are sadly few (six in the catalogue, not counting Hamish Milne’s pioneering 1977 recording on L’Oiseau-Lyre – nla). Hewitt’s trump card is that his is, surprisingly, the first recording to couple the Reubke and the Liszt. The two have obvious parallels, not least the acutely dotted principal theme of both, the three-in-one movement structure, their daring exploration of tonality and the final major-key resolution of both. Hewitt is no less persuasive and fluent here, though Claudius Tanski (MDG) brings greater weight and musical imagination to bear throughout – the Wagner-like maestoso – andante sostenuto section at 12’04” for instance, the handling of the quirky 6/8 allegro agitato rhythm at 25’46” and the presto octaves at 26’51”. Not that you will be able to find these of any individual sections tracked here or in the Liszt, the one black mark against this welcome issue.