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Customer Review

on 4 April 2010
I had waited with great expectation for my copy of these CDs since hearing Stephen Hough's playing of the works last year during the Proms season in London.
This set marks the 50th issue from Hyperion's excellent Romantic Piano Concerto series and an accompanying booklet in the package lists the previous 49, and indeed the planned succeeding issue.
Let me say at the outset that this 2 CD box, containing the 3 concertos and Concert Fantasia is a wonderful issue in every way.
The quality of the recordings is first rate; something we have come to take for granted from this label!
The detailed program notes inform the reader of the background to the writing of these pieces.
One great bonus is the inclusion of, not one but three second movements for the second concerto.
We have Tchaikovsky's original, a truncated version by Siloti and finally Hough's own version.
The program notes explain in detail the story behind this and it is unnecessary to reproduce it here.
In these recordings we have spontaneous applause at the end of each work. Rest assured the live audience was on its best behaviour and there are no coughs to be heard !
The orchestra is the Minnesota, conducted by Osmo Vänskä.
The pianist and conductor take all these works at a fair pace. They are virtuoso works and need a player with great technical ability who can rise above the demands and bring out the beauty of the actual music. Stephen Hough's playing is of the highest quality in this music and all pieces are thrilling indeed to listen to. The Concert fantasia need's this approach, or it tends to sound rather dull as it does on more than one version on my shelves!
The second concerto is also wonderful and the main cadenza under Mr Hough's fingers leaves the jaw dropping in wonderment. The excitement he and his conductor generate at the end of the first and final movements is tremendous.
Some may find the speeds a little too fast at times.
An example is the very beginning of the first concerto, where the music hardly has time to breathe.
But the ear quickly adjusts to the tempi and these are certainly some of the most exhilarating performances available on disc.
Warmly recommended.
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Product Details

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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