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César Franck (1822-1890)

Piano Music

Stephen Hough (piano)
Recording details: July 1996
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: February 1997
Total duration: 67 minutes 36 seconds
Prélude, Choral et Fugue M21  [18'22]
Fugue: Tempo I  [6'54]
Prélude, Aria et Final M23  [19'43]
Aria: Lento  [5'21]
Troisième Choral M40  [11'23]  arr. Stephen Hough (b1961)
Danse lente M22  [2'28]
Grand caprice M13 Op 5  [13'43]

This recording contains all of the mature piano music by César Franck, and includes Stephen Hough's own stunning transcription of the Troisième Choral, originally composed for organ. Also featured is the Grand Caprice, one of numerous 'salon'-type pieces Franck composed in his youth.




'Wonderfully played … marvellous sound. This is a first-rate issue in every respect … only the most exalted comparisons will do for Stephen Hough's latest disc, and even they are struggling to compete. Hough has a dream-ticket combination of virtues—astonishing agility, a faultless ear for texture, fine-tuned stylistic sensibility and an exceptional understanding of harmonic and structural tensions. [His] recent Hyperion issues have given him a lot to live up to. This recital triumphantly does that' (Gramophone)

'It is hard to imagine better performances' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Must take pride of place among recordings of this repertoire. A most distinguished record in every way' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

‘Hough at his magical best’ (Classic FM Magazine)

'Superb performances … Style, elegance, and a power that is awe-inspiring when unleashed. César Franck has never been better served' (Classic CD)

'A superb production!' (Fanfare, USA)

'Playing of exquisite poise, intrepid technical brilliance and extraordinary insight. A peach of an issue' (Hi-Fi News)

'Un des pianistes les plus virtuoses au monde à ce jour, non seulement dans la vitesse et le prestesse, mais surtout dans l'imagination et la qualité sonore. Avec une telle maîtrise du clavier et des timbres, une telle lisibilité polyphonique, une telle intelligence du texte, Hough va à mon sens plus loin que bien d'autres pianistes, même les plus valeureux dans la compréhension profonde de cette musique' (Répertoire, France)

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Reger: Organ Music
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It is a strange paradox that while organists comment how Franck wrote for the organ like a pianist, pianists point out how ‘organ-like’ his piano music is. Both of these opinions have a certain validity, however, because although he spent most of his mature years of creativity in the organ loft Franck began his musical life as a pianist, taking up his first organ position as a means to supplement a meagre living teaching the piano. It was only when he was appointed organist at Ste-Clotilde in 1858 that he began seriously to study the use of the pedals—he had a Pleyel practice pedal-board delivered to his home to help him to use this ‘third hand’ with greater ease.

Stephen Hough © 1997

Etrange paradoxe que l’écriture de Franck: sa musique pour orgue est pianistique pour les organistes, mais sa musique pour piano est «organistique» pour les pianistes. Ces deux opinions présentent toutefois une certaine validité car, s’il passa l’essentiel de ses années de maturité créative à la tribune d’orgue, Franck débuta sa vie musicale comme pianiste, n’acceptant son premier poste d’organiste que pour améliorer le maigre revenu de ses leçons de piano. Ce ne fut d’ailleurs qu’une fois nommé organiste à Sainte-Clotilde, en 1858, qu’il entreprit de sérieusement étudier l’usage des pédales—se faisant livrer à domicile un pédalier d’étude Pleyel pour se familiariser avec l’utilisation de cette «troisième main».

Stephen Hough © 1997
Français: Hypérion

Dass Organisten meinen, Francks Orgelwerke klingen, als wären sie für das Klavier geschrieben, während Pianisten bemerken, daß seine Klavierwerke klingen, als wären sie für die Orgel geschrieben, ist ein seltsames Paradox. Beide Ansichten sind jedoch gewissermaßen berechtigt, denn obwohl Franck den größten Teil seiner reifen Schaffensjahre auf der Orgelempore verbrachte, begann er sein Musikleben als Pianist, und er trat seine erste Stellung als Organist anfangs nur an, um seinen kärglichen Lebensunterhalt als Klavierspieler zu ergänzen. In der Tat begann er erst, den Gebrauch der Pedale ernsthaft zu studieren, als er 1858 zum Organisten an Ste. Clothilde ernannt wurde, und um die „dritte Hand“ gewandter handhaben zu können, ließ er sich eine von Pleyel gebaute Übungspedalklaviatur ins Haus liefern.

Stephen Hough © 1997
Deutsch: Margaret Morey

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