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Hyperion Records

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Garden of Eden (oil on linen) by Anthony Mastromatteo (b?)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist / Private Collection
Track(s) taken from CDA67598
Recording details: November 2006
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2008
Total duration: 11 minutes 32 seconds

'There are all too few pianists with the equivalent of Hough's three Michelin stars … opening with two of Mozart's solo masterpieces, the ear is welcomed into an intimate, pellucid sound world with a sophistcated grading of dynamics … [Liszt-Busoni Fantasy on Non piu andrai] provides a hair-raising bravura display that deserves to be heard more often. At least, when played like this' (Gramophone)

'A bold and dramatic account of Mozart's K475 C minor Fantasia opens this memorable and imaginatively devised recital. While emphasising the prophetically romantic nature of the music, Stephen Hough takes great care not to overplay its more forceful passages … the final party piece, the Liszt/Busoni Fantasia on themes from The Marriage of Figaro, is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser given an exhilharating performance guaranteed to bring the house down' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A scintillating exploration of Mozartian style in tribute works by other composers. Easily the most attractive is by Stephen Hough himself, who takes three small pieces and reinvents them in the style of Poulenc. The result is a seductive, spicy and totally original addition to the genre, and a nice counterweight to the Liszt-Busoni Figaro fantasia, which the prodigiously talented Hough plays with his trademark intensity' (The Observer)

'We look forward to Hough's recordings. They are never disappointing, and this one is a classic. With excellent engineering and Harriet Smith's very informative notes, only those who do not value great pianism can afford to miss it' (American Record Guide)

'Hyperion's imaginative new collection shows this protean artist to be equally at home in the Classical repertoire. Not surprisingly, he offers romantic and highly pianistic Mozart … the result is a trio of performances of splendid variety … the recital ends rousingly with Liszt's Figaro Fantasia. Compared to the other post-Mozartian rarities, of course, this is standard fare—but it sounds freshly minted in this improvisatory reading … notable for his revelatory inner-line clarity even in the most congested textures and for his ability to reveal the underlying gestures in passages, that, even in Gilels' hands, emerge as a mere blur of notes. Excellent Hyperion sound and useful notes by Harriet Smith only add to the virtues of this first-rate release' (International Record Review)

'In a typically well-made progamme, the compelling British pianist springboards of Mozart into a series of tributes. The virtuoisic challenges are handled with liquid clarity and intelligent expression. Mesmerising in the Mozart, the transition to a more modern take comes surprisingly fluently' (The Times)

'Here's another winning, imaginatively conceived disc from Britain's finest pianist … it is unexpected and delightful programme-building. Prized for his pianism, Hough is also a superb Mozartian. He lends these Fantasias an almost Beethovenian weight and depth of expression … Hough's playing is dazzling throughout' (The Sunday Times)

'A new record from Stephen Hough is always something to look foward to, and A Mozart Album is no exception … altogether an outsanding disc released by Hyperion' (Liverpool Daily Post)

'Hough's Mozart playing is so fresh, so sensitive to the harmonic twists and the way the prase can simultaneously suggest different feelings … this 2006 Keener and Eadon production from St George's, Bristol, is impeccably presented, with a congenial note by Harriet Smith' (International Piano)

'In this deft tribute to Mozart's genius, splendid pianist Stephen Hough leads with a pair of the composer's own works before segueing into transcriptions, homages and his own Poulenc-inflected 'transformations'. Hough is incapable of an unengaging performance, as he demonstrates right off with an account of the Fantasia in C minor, K475 that pulls back from stormy drama for something more tactfully measured and delicate. An unfinished Liszt fantasia on 'The Marriage of Figaro' music, amended by Busoni, gets a wittily theatrical treatment' (San Francisco Chronicle)

'Stephen Hough generally does not disappoint in terms of programming … [his]Mozart is exemplary, with the Fantasias approached with a free sense of tempo and a careful attention to the dynamic contrasts and articulations in the score … the pendant piece is the Liszt-Busoni fantasia on themes from Marriage of Figaro, in which Hough displays his considerable technical wizardry and whimsical attention to details' (IonArts.com)

'[Hough] is certainly one of today's most thoughtful and thought-provoking pianists, as his latest thematic Hyperion set underscores … playing with a mix of depth and detail that only the best pianists achieve … he connects kindred spirits in a witty, lovely way' (The Star-Ledger, USA)

Fantasia in C minor, K475
composer
May 1785; dedicated to Therese von Trattner

Other recordings available for download
Edwin Fischer (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
What an extraordinarily original and daring way to begin a piece, with a ringing spare, bare octave, followed by a motif that creeps rather than sings, jostled by one diminished chord after another. Mozart’s audience must have been struck dumb. The work dates from May 1785 and is frequently performed in tandem with the C minor Sonata, K457, in part because they were published together and both dedicated to Therese von Trattner. But both are so potent in their own right, so drenched in despair—for Mozart C minor was a key of inkiest blackness—that such an approach can only lessen their individual impact. The Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein greatly admired the Fantasia, commenting on Mozart’s ‘ability to indulge in the greatest freedom and boldness of imagination, the most extreme contrast of ideas, the most uninhibited variety of lyric and virtuoso elements while yet preserving structural logic’. That freedom is exhibited in many ways—chromaticism abounds, and again and again Mozart ratchets up the tension by increasing dissonance rather than resolving it. Effects such as tremolos prefigure Liszt, and intensify the feeling that we’ve swapped the salon for the high drama of the opera house, with passages that emulate recitative, arioso and aria.

The entire work is pervaded by a sense of restlessness full of constantly shifting moods, daring modulations and the exploitation of the complete range of the contemporary piano, with the hands often in widely contrasting registers, a particularly strong colouristic effect on a period instrument. And yet, as Einstein points out, it is structurally coherent, falling into several clear sections, with the second Adagio recalling the first.

While this sense of clearly mapped-out sections—equally evident in the other C minor work here—may owe something to the fantasias of CPE Bach, that is where the similarity ends. In scope and depth of mood Mozart looks far into the future, to Liszt, perhaps even on to Busoni. It is hardly surprising that there were at least three orchestral versions made of K475 early in the nineteenth century, so potent are its colouristic effects.

from notes by Harriet Smith © 2008


Other albums featuring this work
'Edwin Fischer – Mozart Piano Concertos' (APR7303)
Edwin Fischer – Mozart Piano Concertos
MP3 £13.99FLAC £13.99ALAC £13.99 APR7303  Download only  

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