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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Szell was not satisfied. He mumbled something to the leader then gave ..., 26 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. Robert D. Roy (Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
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). The solo 'cellist is superb in the lovely dialogue of the third movement and He (Marcus Pouget) and Hough really bring depth to this glorious outpouring.

The recording is superb (if, perhaps, highlighting the piano part a shade too much). The notes and presentation are the usual high standard from Hyperion - surely the finest of all independent record labels.

At 9.99 for two discs, this should be on everyone's Christmas list.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but a little under-stated, 23 Jan 2014
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive performances, 26 Feb 2014
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Mr. G. Saxby (Wolverhampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brahms Piano Concertos Hough. Wow!, 9 Jan 2014
By 
Alan J. (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Brahms Piano Concertos, Stephen Hough, 22 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
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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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hough, Brahms, perfection., 26 Nov 2013
By 
Dr. M. Scott (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (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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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brahms with gravitas, 5 Dec 2013
By 
J. W. Rainey (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
Hough's empathy for Brahms comes shining through in these performances. He is technically flawless, combining muscularity and gentle lyricism. All Brahmsians will rejoice at the new Hough and Barry Douglas releases.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent performance., 3 Jan 2014
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Mr. D. J. Elliott (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
I attended a wonderful performance of the 1st concerto given by last year by Stephen Hough, and in comparison this recording does not disappoint. Coupled with the 2nd, it is a disk that I shall enjoy returning to many times.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointed, 4 Jan 2014
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Mr. Christopher Harris "Chris in Brum" (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
These are very good performances but I feel that they are safe and worthy rather than exciting. I think no 2 is better than no 1 which frankly I think is a bit dull. There's nothing wrong with the playing by Hough or by the orchestra but I didn't get out of my chair and clap!

I guess it comes down to personal taste but for me the recent Grimaux release is better, much better in no 1. Brahms: Piano Concertos
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 27 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Brahms: Piano Concertos [Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth] [Hyperion: CDA67961] (Audio CD)
Yet another wonderful recording from Stephen Hough. An absolute joy to listen to and top of my 'favourited' classics playlist
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