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Hyperion Records

GAW21790 - Scharwenka & Sauer: Piano Concertos
GAW21790

Recording details: December 1994
Dudley Town Hall, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: September 2003
Total duration: 69 minutes 11 seconds

GRAMOPHONE RECORDING OF THE YEAR 1996
CLASSIC CD AWARD WINNER
CLASSIC CD 100 GREATEST DISCS OF THE DECADE

'Here, surely, is the jewel in the crown of Hyperion's absorbing series … A flawless marriage of composer, performance, recording and presentation … For here is a scintillating wit and ebullience that will make lesser technicians and stylists weep with envy … As magisterial as it is ear … tickling and affectionate, his playing glows with warmth…and pulses with the most nonchalant glitter in the finale … [Sauer] Throughout, haunting melodies are embroidered with the finest pianistic tracery and, once again, the performance is bewitching … [Sauer Cavatina] Hough’s caressing, fine … spun tone and long … breathed phrasing are a model for singers as well as pianists (Gramophone)

'Virtuosity as impish as it is magisterial … [he] wings his way through every good-humoured page with a poetic and technical zest that takes us back to the great pianists of the past; to a golden age of piano playing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A first class Hyperion recording.' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'Stephen Hough’s punchy, glittering account [of the Scharwenka] is electrifying, his precision and rhythmic élan, especially in the terrifying finale, is beyond praise' (International Record Review)

'These are two bracing works that set the pulse racing and heart soaring without any help from saccharin … Hough’s playing combines bravura and poetry in what the critics call "pure pianism"' (The Sunday Times)

'A glitteringly worthy addition to the Hyperion series … Stephen Hough exhibits dazzling flair in showpiece concertos by Sauer and Scharwenka – and plenty of stamina … Hough plays throughout with exhilarating momentum and dazzling technical address. I doubt whether any CD has so many double octave passages as this, but he never wearies, and his response to both works is as many-sided as the music itself … Not to be missed, on any account’ (Classic CD)

'Here are two long-neglected piano concertos that will thrill and delight you … Stephen Hough’s playing of it confirms his place as one of the half dozen greatest piano technicians of our time … Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto survey has never had a more distinguished protagonist than Stephen Hough' (Fanfare, USA)

'This Gramophone Award-winning disc thrills from start to finish … Hough’s meticulously voiced and glistening pianism really takes some believing considering the technical pressure exerted by these caruscatingly ingenious scores … Anyone who has yet to catch up with this remarkable disc should do so without delay' (International Piano)

'Emotions run high, melody runs vibrantly and virtuoso playing takes the breath away … Hough rises fabulously to every demand with big-boned sound and grand-scale musical vision, jousting at full strength with the robust playing of the CBSO … It might seem unlikely for two obscure piano concertos to achieve such success at the Gramophone Awards, but this disc richly deserved its prize and remains one of Hyperion’s best releases to date' (Amazon.co.uk)

'The pianism of Hough leaves one breathless. His technique is fabulous, and tasteful phrasing wonderfully sensitive to the needs of the period … Musts for fans of 19th-century virtuosity' (In Tune, Japan)

‘this excellent recording allows us to listen, for the first time, to two neglected romantic concertos. It is hard to understand how two works of such bravura and of such calibre as these, that sound so immediately appealing, have remained forgotten for so long. Fortunately, the superlative quality of these versions compensates in excess for the wait … Stephen Hough performs memorably in both of these scores. A pianist of the subtlest musicality and unsurpassable technical resources – a powerful sound, clear and precise fingerings, insurmountable octave playing, enormous dynamic range – he knows how to lend eloquence and fluidity to his splendid musical discourse’ (Classica, France)

Scharwenka & Sauer: Piano Concertos
Allegro patetico  [18'34]
Lento, mesto  [7'24]
Allegro patetico  [10'56]

Scharwenka was one of the most beloved of musical figures during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His Concerto No 4 in F minor, written in 1908, was greeted at its premiere with astonishing enthusiasm from an audience ‘which may, without exaggeration, be said to have included almost every pianist – virtuoso, teacher and student – in Berlin’. Two years later Scharwenka was to give his first performance of the work at a concert in New York. The conductor was Gustav Mahler. Emil Von Sauer’s compositions have suffered from an even greater neglect, wholly unjustifiable, than Scharwenka’s. The E minor Concerto had already gone through eight printings by 1908 when he performed it in Chicago: “It was no matter for astonishment that when the pianist-composer had brought the work to its conclusion a storm of genuine enthusiasm should seep the house from gallery to floor … Mr Sauer represents a school of piano-playing that has all but vanished. The pianists who are now moulding the taste of the public are, one and all, engaged in the questionable task of reproducing with their instruments effects that are orchestral … but in the meantime we are in danger of forgetting the joys of pure pianism. To such joys Mr Sauer has awakened us.” Two first recordings, played by one of the greatest virtuoso pianists today.

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