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Hyperion Records

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Black and White (1960/1) by Ellsworth Kelly (b1923)
The Art Institute of Chicago, restricted gift of Mr and Mrs Arnold H Maremount / Photograph by Grant Hiroshima
Track(s) taken from CDA67849
Recording details: October 2010
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: August 2011
Total duration: 5 minutes 14 seconds

'Launching his latest album with the earliest of waltzes to which Chopin gave an opus number, Stephen Hough sets a sparkling tone for what follows on this altogether brilliant disc … Hough is a pianist with all the elegance, wit and virtuosity required for these pieces, yet he also finds the deep vein of melancholy that runs through many of them' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Hough's decision to record the eight published waltzes in chronological order allows us to gain a feel for Chopin's glorious development in this genre … essential listening' (The Observer)

'Chopin’s waltzes are salon pieces, but always more than salon pieces, and Hough brings an astonishing range of touch to them. All those sophisticated inner parts and harmonic shifts are brought out with the greatest insouciance and style' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Hough's playing has such authority and panache, its balance between virtuosity and vividly communicated expression so finely judged, that every perfectly scaled moment is as intensely realised as every other. Few other pianists around today play Chopin with as much understanding and poised mastery as this' (The Guardian)

'Every [Waltz] conveys the feeling of bodies in motion, skirts twirling, and hearts intertwined … you don’t just hear Hough’s fingers; you hear his soul … the Minute Waltz contains one of the best melting moments of all; I could feel my knees giving way … I knew I’d never get my shins kicked, or an ache in the heel: I was dancing with Chopin and one of the world’s top pianists' (The Times)

'The leading British virtuoso has championed the byways of the piano literature since his award-winning Hummel concertos disc for Chandos. That he is also the most compelling interpreter of the mainstream classics is demonstrated by this winning collection of the 17 canonical masterpieces—and a handful of "encores" … his delicious lilt and rubato always seem perfectly judged, and he sweeps us off our feet with the twinkle-fingered brilliance of his dashing F major waltz … after the whirlwind merry-go-round of Chopin's imaginary ballroom, he sends us off to bed with a reposeful nocturne (Op 9 No 2)—a delightfully thoughtful touch to crown a mesmerising collection' (The Sunday Times)

Waltz in A flat major, Op 34 No 1
composer
1835; published in 1838; sometimes called Grande valse brillante

Other recordings available for download
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Stephen Hough (piano)
Artur Pizarro (piano)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano)
York Bowen (piano)
Raoul Pugno (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
With its opening fanfares the Waltz in A flat major Op 34 No 1 immediately recalls the ballroom, where its main theme, though harmonized in sixths, is clearly happy to be. One of the longest of Chopin’s waltzes, it develops a glitteringly scored episode from the fanfare before modulating to D flat major for a dreamy middle section, itself extensive enough to assume its own ternary form. The A flat material is recalled to be succeeded by a coda which seems to signal a conventionally brilliant exit but which actually proceeds to a subtly allusive ending.

from notes by Gerald Larner © 2009


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