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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66969
Recording details: January 1997
Dudley Town Hall, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: August 1997
Total duration: 12 minutes 48 seconds

'It should perhaps come as no surprise that Stephen Hough should prove so perfectly attuned to these works … if you opt for just a single recording, this would make an excellent first choice … the soft, stylish arpeggios that open the first work on the disc announce immediately that something special is on the way. Hough is now clearly first recommendation in the concertos' (Gramophone)

'[Hough] can scamper with the best and is able to incorporate delightful capriciousness without derailing the flow of thought … These performances…boast of nearly ideal lightness, vivacity and impetus' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Stephen Hough has the ideal qualities of sharp attention to rhythmic detail and an impeccable fluidity of line and phrase' (The Observer)

'You can tell this is special from the first chord … I don't think [Stephen Hough] has an equal on record in this music, even with competitors like Andras Schiff and Murray Perahia. Issues like this add to the feeling that the great Mendelssohn reappraisal is underway at last. It's long overdue' (The Independent)

'Biting intensity, yet with freer expressiveness and bigger contrasts he also brings out extra poetry and … a sparkling wit … A constant delight' (The Guardian)

'Once again we have Stephen Hough lavishing his exciting gifts upon a splendid Mendelssohn programme. I cannot envisage this splendidly recorded disc being absent from the year's honours list' (Classic CD)

'Expressive playing from this fine soloist – one has to marvel at anyone who can take on those devilish tempos' (The Scotsman)

'Hough offers far greater elegance and plusher tone … Hough is, as always, a delight to listen to, such as in his quicksilver scattering of thirds in the last movement of the Second Concerto' (Fanfare, USA)

'Glitteringly performed' (Daily Mail)

'Hough’s pianism …is elegant, spirited and poetic, and well-attuned, too, to the swirling skittishness of the concertos' finales … Hough’s reading, as throughout this disc, is a joy' (Birmingham Post)

'He is all fleet-fingered exhilaration in the outer movements and relaxes appealingly when the music turns inwards' (International Piano)

'Stephen Hough searches out the lyrical essence of the music rather than going for glitz’ (Stereo Review)

'Stephen Hough is a player of formidable talent, capturing the essence and spirit of Mendelssohn’s driving enthusiasm and creative wonder' (Yorkshire Post)

'Stephen Hough is, undoubtedly, one of the most elegant pianists before the public today … Hough does not fail to underscore this in the brilliant pyrotechnics' (Soundscapes, Australia)

'An impressive achievement all round' (Piano, Germany)

Serenade and Allegro giocoso in B minor, Op 43
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
This attractive though slight work was written in 1838, a productive year which saw also the start of work on the famous Violin Concerto and the appearance of the F major Violin Sonata and First Cello Sonata in B flat. As with the Capriccio, the Serenade provokes what prove to be rather false expectations, both in its ostensible gravitas and in the elaborate delicacy of its piano writing. After this the Allegro, though marked also con fuoco in the piano part, does indeed convey what Radcliffe terms ‘a very well-behaved and genteel hilarity’, and the virtuosity is scaled down to suggest again a sort of ‘Song without Words, writ large’. If we glimpse here an endemic tendency towards almost dangerously regular phrase lengths, found in almost all Mendelssohn’s works and on occasion evocative of Blake’s ‘fearful symmetry’ in the minds of the unconverted, the day is nonetheless saved by the composer’s customary fecundity as a melodist. As before, the orchestra is allowed the last word.

from notes by Francis Pott © 1997

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