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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66790
Recording details: December 1994
Dudley Town Hall, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: September 1995
Total duration: 39 minutes 18 seconds

'Here, surely, is the jewel in the crown of Hyperion's absorbing series … A flawless marriage of composer, performance, recording and presentation … For here is a scintillating wit and ebullience that will make lesser technicians and stylists weep with envy … As magisterial as it is ear … tickling and affectionate, his playing glows with warmth…and pulses with the most nonchalant glitter in the finale … [Sauer] Throughout, haunting melodies are embroidered with the finest pianistic tracery and, once again, the performance is bewitching … [Sauer Cavatina] Hough’s caressing, fine … spun tone and long … breathed phrasing are a model for singers as well as pianists (Gramophone)

'A first class Hyperion recording.' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'Stephen Hough’s punchy, glittering account [of the Scharwenka] is electrifying, his precision and rhythmic élan, especially in the terrifying finale, is beyond praise' (International Record Review)

'These are two bracing works that set the pulse racing and heart soaring without any help from saccharin … Hough’s playing combines bravura and poetry in what the critics call "pure pianism"' (The Sunday Times)

'A glitteringly worthy addition to the Hyperion series … Stephen Hough exhibits dazzling flair in showpiece concertos by Sauer and Scharwenka – and plenty of stamina … Hough plays throughout with exhilarating momentum and dazzling technical address. I doubt whether any CD has so many double octave passages as this, but he never wearies, and his response to both works is as many-sided as the music itself … Not to be missed, on any account’ (Classic CD)

'Here are two long-neglected piano concertos that will thrill and delight you … Stephen Hough’s playing of it confirms his place as one of the half dozen greatest piano technicians of our time … Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto survey has never had a more distinguished protagonist than Stephen Hough' (Fanfare, USA)

'This Gramophone Award-winning disc thrills from start to finish … Hough’s meticulously voiced and glistening pianism really takes some believing considering the technical pressure exerted by these caruscatingly ingenious scores … Anyone who has yet to catch up with this remarkable disc should do so without delay' (International Piano)

'Virtuosity as impish as it is magisterial … [he] wings his way through every good-humoured page with a poetic and technical zest that takes us back to the great pianists of the past; to a golden age of piano playing' (BBC CD Review)

'Emotions run high, melody runs vibrantly and virtuoso playing takes the breath away … Hough rises fabulously to every demand with big-boned sound and grand-scale musical vision, jousting at full strength with the robust playing of the CBSO … It might seem unlikely for two obscure piano concertos to achieve such success at the Gramophone Awards, but this disc richly deserved its prize and remains one of Hyperion’s best releases to date' (Amazon.co.uk)

'The pianism of Hough leaves one breathless. His technique is fabulous, and tasteful phrasing wonderfully sensitive to the needs of the period … Musts for fans of 19th-century virtuosity' (In Tune, Japan)

‘this excellent recording allows us to listen, for the first time, to two neglected romantic concertos. It is hard to understand how two works of such bravura and of such calibre as these, that sound so immediately appealing, have remained forgotten for so long. Fortunately, the superlative quality of these versions compensates in excess for the wait … Stephen Hough performs memorably in both of these scores. A pianist of the subtlest musicality and unsurpassable technical resources – a powerful sound, clear and precise fingerings, insurmountable octave playing, enormous dynamic range – he knows how to lend eloquence and fluidity to his splendid musical discourse’ (Classica, France)

Piano Concerto No 4 in F minor, Op 82
composer

Allegro patetico  [18'34]
Lento, mesto  [7'24]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
This concerto, the finest of Scharwenka’s four—and a work for which he especially wished to be remembered—was first performed on 31 October 1908 in the Beethovensaal, Berlin. The soloist was Scharwenka’s pupil, and later assistant, Martha Siebold, and Scharwenka himself conducted. The correspondent of the London Musical Times reported that ‘the hall was crowded by an audience which may, without exaggeration, be said to have included almost every pianist—virtuoso, teacher and student—in Berlin. The work, which was received with tremendous enthusiasm, is sure to become a favourite with pianists able to do justice to its great difficulties, for, while providing an orchestral part of true symphonic importance, the work is a genuine virtuoso concerto. The music is remarkably fresh in invention, and yet it is a generation since the composer wrote his first concerto in B flat minor.’ Moriz Rosenthal, perhaps Liszt’s greatest pupil and a great admirer of Scharwenka, wrote of the new work: ‘It has charmed and moved me to no little degree. In your youth you created that master-work, your B flat minor Concerto, and now in your mature years you present to the world a work full of youthful fire and ardour which rivets the attention with its verve and impetuosity.’

from notes by Steven Heliotes © 1995

Other albums featuring this work
'The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 2' (HYP20)
The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 2
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