- Audio CD (22 Feb. 2002)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Hyperion
- ASIN: B0000631BG
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 230,565 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Stephen Hough's English Album CD
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This disc, which is very close to Stephen Hough's heart, should be thought of as an addition to his very successful series of 'Piano Albums'. In fact this recital started off with material left over from his New Piano Album (CDA67043). The disc is a tribute to the English school of piano composition mostly a 20th-century phenomenon, and the material is very much a personal selection rather than an encyclopaedic overview. The mood is predominantly lyrical and nostalgic (perhaps very English phenomena), and most of the pieces are very much the kind Stephen might present as encores. There is some serious 'meat' though in the form of Leighton's Study Variations. These are a major addition to the piano repertoire and add to the growing recognition, some fourteen years after his death, that in Kenneth Leighton we have a major composer indeed.
'Another winner from the ever-imaginative Stephen Hough. In all these pieces Hough's magic is presented in full, clear Hyperion sound' (Gramophone) 'Powerful, sympathetic and beautifully recorded, and his fans everywhere will be thrilled' (BBC Music Magazine) 'Hough's performances are magical scintillating, refined, sensuous in the smaller works, commanding and powerful in Rawsthorne and Leighton. I hope this superb pianist records many more recitals of British music' (American Record Guide) 'Hough's pianism is a constant source of wonder every chord and phrase perfectly judged' (Classic FM Magazine) 'scrupulous, full ... bodied, and technically impeccable performances ... He revels in the sensuous harmonic felicities that color Stephen Reynolds' pastiches and makes an easy task of York Bowen s fustian textures (Classics Today.com) 'these performances can be regarded as definitive ... A CD of revealing personal choices of a master pianist, and one that reveals yet more very worthy British music ... Strongly recommended' (Fanfare, USA) 'Exquisite presentation ... [Hough] is a pianist of such refinement and impeccable technique that he makes everything he plays compellingly interesting ... [the Leighton Studies] have a clear awareness of other 20th -century musical styles, including jazz, and there is an element of virtuosity that Hough, of course, delivers brilliantly' (The Guardian) '(Hough) plays with an astonishing command, great insight and some terrific finesse, in a performance that ranges from the elegant and sensitive to the vigorous and exhilarating' (Hi-Fi News and Record Review) 'Hough plays [Leighton] superbly, with marvellous tonal control in the rugged and spiky passages and also in the quiet harmonic episodes that glow with fierce intensity ... enjoyable, excellently performed and beautifully engineered CD' (International Piano) 'I ve long admired the unfailingly beautiful, carefully honed, paradoxically rich but lean textures and sonorities Stephen Hough cultivates ... a style in which patient, sustained utterance came to seem immediate, fervent and idealistic ... Crystal-sharp sound and superb performances; transcendental technique in the service of music that at least sets itself transcendental goals' (Pianist) 'Hough is one of world s grandest piano performers, imaginative, graceful, powerful, able to dazzle with both his technique and his mind ... a haunting and complex collection' (Philadelphia Post) 'This is a treat for lovers of the piano ... Fascinating stuff' --(Manchester Evening News)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is an amazing recording, unbelievable artistry -- gorgeous music, played sensitively. These are not warhorse pieces that you will necessarily recognize. Yet, despite being off the beaten trail, the music draws you in. This is one of those rarest of recordings, something different -- and yet so desirable.
Can I say something negative about this recording? Uh..no...it is English music -- which is to say not Bach, Beethoven, Brahms -- but it is sensuous music -- and by no means, dull.
I purchase over 300 Classical CDs every year. I'd be surprised if this isn't my favorite recording of 2002. I used to work in a music store when I was in college. In a couple of instances I used to "guarantee" people that they would like a particular performance or their money back. This is that kind of recording, so good I can't imagine someone not being taken in by its charm.
On a different note, I am disappointed to see that Simon Trpceski's debut album is not available on this site. It includes exceptional playing at a bargain price and I highly recommend its acquisition.
Elgar's In Smyrna represents Elgar in lighter mood, but has memorable touches; Bantock's Song to the Seals is less effective. The contributions by York Bowen and by Frank Bridge are in many ways the highlights of the disc. Wonderfully varied, melodic works which deserve wider currency. The Six Studies by Kenneth Leighton constitute the most substantial music on the disc and exhibit a somewhat tougher language than the other pieces; they are surely technical demanding in their furious clashes of notes and clustering chords, but also ultimately very rewarding pieces of music in their own right. Needless to say, Hough's performances are absolutely superb; the more challenging works are handled with technical aplomb; the more reflective ones with delicacy and a large and finely nuanced color palette. A very satisfying, pleasant release which deserves a firm recommendation.