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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: 10 minutes 44 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 4 in F minor, Op 52
composer
summer 1842; Nohant

Other recordings available for download
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Together with the Barcarolle, the Polonaise-Fantaisie, and the second and third sonatas, the Fourth Ballade represents the summit of Chopin’s art. The tentative start is haunting and suggestive and was once beautifully described by the critic Joan Chissell as bringing the same sense of wonder that a blind person, if granted the gift of sight, might feel on discovering the world’s beauty for the first time. The principal, highly Slavonic theme is closely related to the first of Chopin’s Trois Nouvelles Études (1839), the second of the opus 25 Études and surely provided an inspiration for Liszt’s La Leggierezza (1848; all four works are in the key of F minor). It returns twice bejewelled, and the second subject’s appearance in B flat and the return of the opening in A flat never disrupt the music’s self-generating momentum. An aerial cadenza and a canonic treatment of the first subject bear eloquent witness to Chopin’s increasing veneration for Bach, and the build-up and the pianissimo chords announcing a coda of the most fiery intricacy are as remarkable as anything in Chopin. They remind us simultaneously of his capacity for large-scale heroics and for the most intimate and hauntingly distinctive confidences.

from notes by Bryce Morrison © 2004


Other albums featuring this work
'Simon Barere – His celebrated live recordings at Carnegie Hall, Vol. 1 – 1946' (APR5621)
Simon Barere – His celebrated live recordings at Carnegie Hall, Vol. 1 – 1946
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99 APR5621  Download only  
'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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