Simply the Best. The pieces are short, they are arranged in an unusual, witty, light, delicate & elegant way with tremendous amount of skill and talent. You don't need to be a "serious" classic music fan to be able to enjoy this. It is for everyone. I am so pleased that I bought this CD, it is my new "favourite thing".
Here is an unusual and imaginative collection of encores and transcriptions, beautifully played by Stephen Hough. The pianism is of a very high order indeed - despite the obvious technical difficulty of most of these pieces Stephen plays them as if the difficulties simply don't exist. But more than that, his effortless technique is completely at the service of the music, and although many of the pieces on this CD will be unfamiliar to most listeners (myself included), in Stephen's hands each one of them is revealed to be a masterpiece in its own right. This is no less true for Stephen's own arrangement of 'My Favourite Things' from Rodgers and Hammersteins' musical 'The Sound of Music', where Stephen has brought considerable subtlety of invention to bear on this familiar melody. The recorded sound is (for my tastes) absolutely perfect, possessing as it does a warm tone recorded in an ideal acoustic. In short, a delightful CD, one that can be whole-heartedly recommended to all music lovers, and not just pianophiles!
My wife watched Stephen Hough play at the 2013 Proms and very much enjoyed his performance. He also gave a very interesting televised interview concerning the Rachmaninov pieces in his programme. As a result I bought this compact disc for her and she liked it sufficiently to store the tracks on her iPod.
We all enjoy encores and this disc is essentially just that, a potpourri of the sort of pieces that a Horowitz, Rubinstein or Cherkassky might once have thrown off at the end of a recital. It is a collection of mainly short pieces, some familiar, others less so. They include transcriptions by the likes of Godowsky and Liszt, and also from Hough himself. And yes, the disc really does takes its title from that infamous song from Richard Rodgers' `Sound of Music'. But Hough's arrangement has some deliciously original touches and makes it something wholly fresh and appealing (hopefully banishing all thought of Julie Andrews in the process!). Originally recorded in 1988, this CD is an absolute gem on all counts. Stephen Hough's artistry goes before him of course, and this collection shows his abilities to the full. The whole gamut of pianistic expression is here, from the lightest of touches in the Quilter pieces for example, to the astonishing virtuosity displayed in Moszkowski's `Caprice Espagnole' or MacDowell's energetic `Hexentanz'. But in terms of sheer virtuosity, most stunning of all are `Caprice-Burlesque' by Gabrilovich, and Palmgren's `En route', a swinging, foot-tapping Nordic ragtime. Wistfulness and nostalgia pervade Paderewski's `Nocturne' and Friedman's `Musical Box', these charming numbers offering a little by way of contrast and respite perhaps. All in all it is a many faceted disc and one that may be enjoyed on all levels. Whether heard merely as background music at a dinner party perhaps (assuming one's guests like this sort of thing of course), or listened to in total silence and enjoyed purely as a fine example of superlative pianism it is a disc that surely has something for everyone.