Andrew McGregor
BBC Record Review
March 2021

Pianist Danny Driver’s latest album takes us into the extraordinary world of György Ligeti’s 18 Études, studies from the 1980s and 90s that have already become modern classics for the way they test the pianist’s technique while teasing our ears with an extraordinary variety of sounds, ideas and musical genres. This is a place where the inhumanly complex world of Conlon Nancarrow’s Studies for player piano rubs shoulders with Balinese gamelan, jazz piano, Eastern European folk and Ligeti’s own sense of fantasy and humour … Danny Driver’s performances are intensely focused but always alive to the deep humanity of the exercises, not just their ingenuity and complexity. There’s an essential simplicity of communication that underpins them all, no matter how seemingly insurmountable their technical demands appear on the page. ‘We must not ignore the ghost in the musical machine,’ says Driver: putting ’the emotional and evocative power of these pieces centre stage despite their intransigent virtuosity’ is, he says, ’the ultimate challenge laid down by these extraordinary works.’ Job done, I’d say, admirably so—and it’s a luminous, detailed recording as well.