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Hyperion Records

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Keramisch-Mystisch (In der Art eines Stillebens) (1925) by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67996
Recording details: May 2013
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2014
Total duration: 14 minutes 6 seconds

'A new disc from Stephen Hough is always welcome. How will he surprise us this time and where will he take us? … there’s the dark and turbulent eponymous tone-poem and the far-from-restful presto finale of the 'Moonlight', given additional agitation by Hough’s spiky left-hand off-beats. The two adroitly chosen Nocturnes show that Chopin’s nocturnal reveries could be as dark and threatening in their own way as Hough’s, if his Sonata notturno luminoso is anything to go by. Angular, dissonant, fiery and often bleak, this work (18’23" in length) suggests, among its many images, ‘the irrational fears or the disturbing dreams which are only darkened by the harsh glare of a suspended, dusty light bulb’ (the composer’s useful route map in a note appended to Harriet Smith’s thoughtful booklet)' (Gramophone) » More

'Hough’s own Sonata … is rich in textural variety and harmonic colour, full of massive chunks of sound like sculpted blocks of marble lit from within, and quirky, obsessive toccatas that whirl by like a runaway roundabout that keeps changing direction. It is unsettling, playful and original … hearing a masterful pianist performing his own work is a special experience in itself … countless details prove rewarding: the smoky pedal in the C sharp minor Nocturne’s transition, the free-flying melodic lines of ‘In der Nacht’, the veiled duskiness of the Moonlight Sonata's opening movement' (BBC Music Magazine) » More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

'Hough's Sonata unfolds … with an immediately apparent structural logic and a harmonic vocabulary that conveys vivid emotional narrative. As one would expect from a pianist of Hough’s gifts, textures are imaginative, with plenty of excitement and variety. Interesting from the first hearing, it grows more so with repeated listening. Hough’s musical thinking has the same warmth and communicativeness as his performing persona, so that one looks forward to hearing more … the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata heard here is very good and deeply musical … the two Chopin Nocturnes, Op 27, on the other hand, are ethereal and abundantly poetic.

Though he’s recorded some, I’ve not heard Hough play Schumann before. What a pleasure it is! His Carnaval has great warmth and gentleness, along with appropriate doses of high spirits and antic, even slapstick humour. Extremely original in concept, this interpretation is seasoned throughout with a unique tempo rubato that is both apt and uncannily subtle. I don’t think I’ve sat through another Carnaval that was quite this much fun. You should have a listen' (International Record Review) » More

'Hyperion’s superb recording and Stephen Hough’s burnished sound make this a most appealing disc on the subject of music of the night … Hough gives a ‘Moonlight’ Sonata in a different league … finding cheeky accents in the central Allegretto and presenting an explosive finale. The two Chopin Nocturnes, both beautifully shaded and harmonically aware, precede Hough’s own Second Piano Sonata … Hough is his own finest interpreter, playing with a fierce belief in the score. Finally, Schumann’s Carnaval … the opening gestures are gloriously exuberant, introducing one of the finest readings available' (International Piano) » More

Piano Sonata in C sharp minor 'Moonlight', Op 27 No 2
composer
1801; published in March 1802; No 14; Beethoven's subtitle is 'quasi una Fantasia'; the nickname 'Moonlight' comes from Ludwig Rellstab's description of the opening movement; dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

Adagio sostenuto  [5'08]
Allegretto  [1'53]
Presto agitato  [7'05]

Other recordings available for download
Alessio Bax (piano)
Artur Pizarro (piano)
Steven Osborne (piano)
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano)
Harold Bauer (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
If the title of the Op 13 Sonata at least has some semblance of authenticity, the same cannot be said of the nickname that has become attached to the second of the pair of sonatas Op 27. It was the poet and music critic Ludwig Rellstab who described its famous opening movement as evoking ‘a boat, visiting, by moonlight, the primitive landscapes of Lake Lucerne’. Curiously enough, to Beethoven’s pupil Carl Czerny, writing before Rellstab had penned his phrase, the sonata’s opening movement also suggested a nocturnal landscape. The piece, said Czerny, was ‘a night scene, in which the plaintive voice of a spirit is heard far in the distance’.

The Op 27 sonatas were issued in 1801, both of them with the sub-heading of ‘quasi una Fantasia’—a qualification indicating the freedom with which Beethoven was treating the traditional sonata design. The ‘Moonlight’ Sonata’s famous opening movement bears the direction: Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino (‘This entire piece must be played with the utmost delicacy, and without dampers’). ‘Senza sordino’ was Beethoven’s habitual marking at this stage of his career for the use of the sustaining pedal, and although on a modern piano his instruction needs to be treated with some caution, a certain degree of harmonic blurring is implied in order to convey the music’s unbroken atmosphere of plaintive mystery. Beethoven was to exploit similar overlapping pedal effects in the rondo theme of the ‘Waldstein’ Sonata.

As he was to do the following year in his ‘Tempest’ Sonata Op 31 No 2, Beethoven maintains the darkness of the minor mode throughout the two outer movements, while writing the middle movement entirely in the major. (‘A flower between two abysses’ was Liszt’s evocative description of the minuet-like second movement of Op 27 No 2.) The finale is an unrelentingly agitated piece whose coda, with its ‘strummed’ diminished-seventh chords sweeping up the keyboard, reaches new heights of turbulence. Not until the ‘Appassionata’ Op 57 did Beethoven write another finale for piano of comparable dramatic intensity.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2010


Other albums featuring this work
'Beethoven: Alessio Bax plays Beethoven' (SIGCD397)
Beethoven: Alessio Bax plays Beethoven
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £10.50ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £10.50 SIGCD397  Download only NEW   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Hyperion monthly sampler – October 2014' (HYP201410)
Hyperion monthly sampler – October 2014
HYP201410  Download-only monthly sampler 29 September 2014 Release  
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas' (CDA67662)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas' (CKD244)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
MP3 £8.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00 CKD244  Download only  
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3' (CDA67797)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3
'Harold Bauer – The complete recordings' (APR7302)
Harold Bauer – The complete recordings
MP3 £13.99FLAC £13.99ALAC £13.99 APR7302  Download only  
'Paderewski – His final recordings' (APR5636)
Paderewski – His final recordings
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99 APR5636  Download only  

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