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Hyperion Records

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Cupid and Psyche by Annie Louisa Swynnerton (1844-1933)
Oldham Art Gallery, Lancashire / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67456
Recording details: May 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2004
Total duration: 6 minutes 49 seconds

'This is astonishing piano playing and Chopin interpretation, at its very best, fully measuresup to the greatness of these pieces. And to their freshness, not least; the Ballades and Scherzos, along with just about all Chopin's work, have been constsntly before the public, and Stephen Hough's accounts of them offer plenty of refinement to spirit and senses. It's not given to many to play them as well as he. Hough is unfailingly thoughtful; there's not a note that hasn't been cared for. …he combines a staggering technique with a genuinely engaging musical imagination. Handsomely recorded and produced.' (Gramophone)

'In the use of words like sensational, extraordinary, phenomenal, etc., critics have to be sparing, at risk of their credibility. But these adjectives are all appropriate to this new Chopin recital by Stephen Hough, which vaults him to the top rung in this repertoire, right next to Rubinstein' (American Record Guide)

'Hough has something unique and individual to say, with capricious daring and memorable directness. The beautifully balanced sound quality self-effacingly enhances what seemingly passes for a live experience uninhibited by microphones. Listen well and often for maximum reward and exhilaration.' (International Record Review)

'…to play Chopin with the rhythmic subtlety he requires without it seeming contrived is a rare gift. Stephen Hough has it in abundance' (The Sunday Times)

'Stephen Hough's quicksilver mastery of the idiom proves an unfailing guide throughout' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hough has an awe-inspiring technique and the ability to play even the most rushed passages of Chopin with extraordinary clarity' (Fanfare, USA)

Ballade No 2 in A minor, Op 38
composer
1835/9; begins in F major, ends in A minor

Other recordings available for download
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Second Ballade is dedicated to Schumann and its violently opposed first and second subjects could hardly have been excelled by that master of vivid contrasts. The opening quaver crotchet rhythm establishes the basic compound duple time, but the music’s deceptively placid progress is enlivened by syncopation and several surprise turns, a remarkable instance of simplicity without monotony. The subsequent tornado (sufficiently sudden to encourage all lovers of programme music) subsides, and a series of left-hand scales gradually calms the fury of this wintry blast. The principal subject returns and after a brooding development and a passage of great improvisatory daring the second subject’s violence is once more unleashed. Insistent tremolandi and trills announce a coda whose percussive force looks ahead towards the twentieth century and to the caustic brilliance of Prokofiev. Chopin, however, reserves his masterstroke for the final bars where the opening theme reappears plaintif and resigned in A minor, its original and, in retrospect, naive optimism defeated.

from notes by Bryce Morrison © 2004


Other albums featuring this work
'Chopin: Ballades & Sonata No 3' (CDH55182)
Chopin: Ballades & Sonata No 3
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55182  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Chopin: The Complete Works' (CDS44351/66)
Chopin: The Complete Works
MP3 £45.00FLAC £45.00ALAC £45.00Buy by post £50.00 CDS44351/66  16CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  

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