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Hyperion Records

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When all is said & done (2006) by Anthony Mastromatteo (b?)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist / Private Collection
Track(s) taken from CDA67686
Recording details: July 2008
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Rachel Smith
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: March 2009
Total duration: 24 minutes 41 seconds

'Listening to this recital I felt as though I were a guest at a sumptuous banquet … it is the different wines accompanying each course that make this meal special, that is to say the discriminating premier cru tone, touch (what magically hushed pianissimos) and masterly pedalling to which the diners are treated, each element adjusted to each composer yet all unmistakably Stephen Hough—vintage Hough at that, for here is a pianist at the height of his powers … a great piano recording and front runner for instrumental disc of the year' (Gramophone)

'The glinting wit and thorough seriousness of pianist Stephen Hough's playing—attributes you desire from all virtuosi but do not always find—make this mixed repertoire disc a particular joy' (The Observer)

'Variations sérieuses is given a spontaneous and nimble account, fully relaying Mendelssohn's dazzling invention; and also his heart … [Beethoven Op 111] the second movement has rarely sounded more luminous … [Invitation to the Dance] Hough's performance is scintillating and affectionate, notably lucid in how the hands interact. The Chopin waltzes are pleasurable for Hough's unaffected and crisp (but never inflexible) playing … this thoughtfully conceived, superbly executed and produced release warrants a most enthusiastic recommendation' (International Record Review)

'Hough's clear-sighted path through both the Mendelssohn and Beethoven, every detail perfectly placed, belies the charm he brings to the bravura glitter of the Weber, the subtle ambiguities of Debussy's La Plus que Lente, and the more insidious allure of the Liszt. It's a beautifully accomplished sequence' (The Guardian)

'It's hard to think of another pianist who could encompass such high seriousness—his techincal brilliance is never an alibi for superficiality in Beethoven and Mendelssohn—and high jinks within the same programme … Hough wears his virtuosity so lightly that the fantastically difficult notes seem to pour off his fingers with effortless ease. His Weber and Liszt are played with staggering bravura, his Chopin is both brilliant and wistful, and his Waltzing Matilda makes you want to laugh out loud' (The Sunday Times)

Piano Sonata in C minor, Op 111
composer
1822; No 32

Other recordings available for download
William Kinderman (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Although it took him well over a year to compose his last three piano sonatas, Beethoven spoke nothing but the truth when he declared that they were written ‘in a single breath’. Sketched at the same time and inspired by a similar vision, they can be taken together to add up to one vast work on the same philosophical theme. In each one of them serenity is glimpsed at a fairly early stage and, against all the odds, is secured at the end.

In the very last in the series, the Piano Sonata in C minor, completed in 1822, the vision is particularly elusive and its ultimate realization particularly sublime. The first movement, beginning with an implacable Maestoso challenge that three times defies the establishment of any definitive tonality, is a tremendous struggle. When it eventually finds its way into C minor, by way of a long low trill and a decisive change of tempo, it is to launch a fierce attack led by a peremptory three-note motif. As the salient feature of the first subject, that motif dominates the whole movement. Its dynamic grip is avoided only by the second subject which, briefly but significantly, affords a glimpse of the ideal in A flat major at the top end of the keyboard. Although it has no place in the contrapuntal development, the second subject is somewhat expanded in the recapitulation, where it not only reappears in C major but also uses its persuasive influence to bring about a quiet ending in that more peaceable key.

The precarious achievement of serenity is one thing. To sustain it is quite another. The second movement—an Arietta with a series of variations in which everything seems to change but in which everything fundamental remains the same—is a uniquely inspired eternity of serenity. The tempo seems to be twice as fast for the fugato of the second variation and faster again for the third, although in fact it is only the note values which change. The syncopations in the fourth variation are no more than superficially disturbing, since the long-preserved triple pulse is still perceptible below the surface and, eventually, on the surface too. There is only one significant change of key—brought about, after more than ten minutes of C major, in a long series of trills—which amounts to an affirmation that no serious threat to C major serenity exists. The Arietta melody, now restored to its original shape and its original key, aspires to the higher regions of the keyboard where, accompanied by the flickering arpeggios and trills since imitated by generations of visionary composer–pianists, it finally achieves its apotheosis.

from notes by Gerald Larner © 2009


Other albums featuring this work
'Beethoven: The Last Three Piano Sonatas' (CDH55083)
Beethoven: The Last Three Piano Sonatas
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