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Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] Double CD


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Hough was born in Heswall (then in Cheshire) on the Wirral Peninsula, and grew up in Hoylake, where he began piano lessons at the age of five. In 1978, he was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition and won the piano section. In 1982, he won the Terence Judd Award in England. In 1983, he took first prize at the Naumburg International Piano Competition in New ... Read more in Amazon's Stephen Hough Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] + Brahms: The Symphonies + Brahms: Violin Concerto; Hungarian Dances;  Bartók: Rhapsodies
Price For All Three: £49.25

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Product details

  • Conductor: Mark Wigglesworth
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (25 Nov 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B00FBG7NYY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,806 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor Op 15 | Maestoso [22'53]
2. Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor Op 15 | Adagio [13'28]
3. Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor Op 15 | Rondo | Allegro non troppo [12'41]
Disc: 2
1. Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major Op 83 | Allegro non troppo [18'19]
2. Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major Op 83 | Allegro appassionato [9'10]
3. Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major Op 83 | Andante [11'52] - Various Performers
4. Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major Op 83 | Allegretto grazioso [9'30]

Product Description

Product Description

This attractively priced double set is one of Stephen Hough's most important recordings. 'Britain's greatest living pianist' (The Mail on Sunday) is joined by Mozarteumorchester Salzburg and international conductor Mark Wigglesworth in their Hyperion debut for Brahms's Piano Concertos. These works are among the greatest in the genre, and shore up Brahms's reputation as both a symphonist and a piano composer. Separated by twenty-two years and widely differing in their reception (the first was scorned and the second a huge success), they are monumental in scale, impassioned and truly romantic, forward-looking in form and requiring both great virtuosity and intimacy from the pianist. Stephen Hough has performed them in concert for many years to ecstatic acclaim: this new recording is surely one of his most desirable offerings.

Review

There is plenty to enjoy. --Gramophone, Jan'14

Stephen Hough has proved himself a superb Brahms player in various discs of the solo piano music and this very satisfying double album of the two concertos confirms and augments his reputation. Performance ***** Recording ***** --BBC Music magazine, Feb'14

Hyperion's sound here is brilliantly immediate, and the gruff tutti which opens Brahms's D minor concerto is startling. Such an unusual start for a concerto the music brooding, seething with fury. You wonder if the pianist will get a look in. Mark Wigglesworth's Mozarteumorchester Salzburg produce a lean, wiry sound far less refulgent than we're used to. And it works, making Stephen Hough's first entry all the more unexpected the first solo not a million miles from genteel salon music. Hough can be a mercurial pianist, able to project with the lightest of touches, but Brahms's more daunting writing carries satisfying weight here. Wigglesworth and Hough manage to avoid any sense of stodginess - the 6/4 metre flows very nicely indeed, the waltz rhythms offering a welcome touch of light relief. Hough makes Brahms's Adagio sing with unforced eloquence, but the best thing here is the final Rondo. The coda's shift to D major is one of music's most uplifting moments, and it's marvellous in these hands, Hough's bass lines ringing out with percussive brilliance. Brahms's Concerto no 2, though a more mature, confident work, just doesn't seem as much fun the Allegro non troppo's 4/4 plod a little too stately and self-satisfied. Brahms joked that the movement was "harmless", providing vivid contrast in the form of a dark, minor-key scherzo. Hough catches the lilt as well as the melancholy. Marcus Pouget's cello solo in the extended Andante offers additional pleasures, but not even Hough's genius can prevent the Allegro grazioso from sounding slightly inconsequential an oddly unsatisfying conclusion to such a weighty piece. I'm nitpicking these are very good performances, well-recorded and reasonably priced. Good notes, too. --ArtsDesk, Feb'14

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Robert Roy TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 Nov 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My goodness! What an opening!

Many years ago, whilst a music student, our head of department related a story about a rehearsal of the Brahms first piano concerto he attended during a 1960's Edinburgh Festival. The artists were George Szell, Clifford Curzon and the London Symphony Orchestra.

"He, (Szell), started the concerto with a fierce downbeat. The LSO responded with a fortissimo. Szell was not satisfied. He mumbled something to the leader then gave an even fiercer downbeat. The orchestra gave an FFF response. Szell stopped and then spent what seemed like a very long time saying nothing whilst staring at each section of the orchestra in turn. He gave a small downbeat and the response was as if all hell had broken loose!"

Szell played on for a bit then stopped before the soloist entered. 'That, Gentlemen will do for now. Tonight, you give me the real thing, huh?'

Well, this recording must replicate that event since my wife and I jumped out our seats at the beginning. The tempi in the first movement are very fluent - no geriatric Brahms here! This really is young man's music and all concerned here seem determined to prove it. The second movement shows just how well Hough does poetry and, again, tempi flow very well. The last movement is equally convincing. CD Review featured this work on 'Building a Library' recently. Had this recording been available I suspect it may have swept the board.

The second concerto's performance is easily the equal to that of the first. The orchestra have a more collaborative role in this work and Wigglesworth brings out the very best from them. (I wonder how much opportunity they get to play these Titanic works).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Saxby on 26 Feb 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Stephen Hough's interpretations can sometimes be a little wayward, but not here. These performances breathe the spirit of both the young and the older Brahms, and form a beautifully balanced pair. It goes without saying that the execution of these challenging works is impeccable.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Jan 2014
Format: Audio CD
This double bill of the Brahms Piano Concertos, recorded over four days last January in the Salzburger Festspielhaus, has been rapturously received in some quarters and it is indeed very good: the sound is superb, the playing masterly and the package very attractive (hideous cover notwithstanding). Stephen Hough is, in terms of both technique and artistry, certainly one of the best pianists before the public today and this recording will be welcomed; indeed, it seems to be one of the few new releases making encouraging sales at present.

However, I wonder if, in the context of previous great recordings, it is quite as special as some claim. It must compete with versions on my shelves of the First by Rubinstein (with Reiner), of the Second by Gilels (again, with Reiner) and by Richter (with Leinsdorf), and, in both concertos, van Cliburn (yet again with Reiner), Kovacevich (with Davis) and Gilels (with Jochum) - and that's some competition.

For all his clarity and fluency, I don't think Hough quite matches those artists for drive, power and brilliance - although the opening of the D minor is certainly arresting enough and Wigglesworth directs with real momentum, while allowing Hough space for rubato and shapely phrasing. But it is soon apparent that the Mozarteumorchester is not the BPO, the LSO or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and at times they sound a little tonally grey and under-powered for such titanic music.

Nonetheless, I like and enjoy these performances; there is too much going for them to merit any other reaction - it's simply that they are not quite the very best ever made.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Alan Brookes on 22 Feb 2014
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These are stunning performances of the perhaps neglected Brahms' concertos. The recording deserves to be heard by the widest possible public. The playing taken with the recording makes the whole effect superb- a true delight.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan J. on 9 Jan 2014
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I had Hough's original recordings of these concertos and decided to buy the new ones when I saw them on amazon. They are absolutely superb. The piano is well placed with the orchestra and is able to balance and cut through heavy orchestral texture with ease.
I am a great Hough fan and had the pleasure of meeting him over a year ago.
I now have about 6 different recordings of these concertos and Hough's is probably my favourite.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Dr. M. Scott on 26 Nov 2013
Format: Audio CD
Stephen Hough can't release anything below par. And this is certainly in the same line of quality pianism that his admirers expect. Deep, lustrous readings of two of the finest of all concertos with full-blooded accompaniment from the Salzburgers under Wigglesworth. Superb performances in pristine sound as usual from the Hyperion team. Five stars.
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Breathtaking and authoritative execution, coupled with a lyrical artistry, that divides this musician from the machical, and mundane. Something to enjoy, and learn from.
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