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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67027
Recording details: October 1998
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Mike Clements
Release date: March 1999
Total duration: 10 minutes 33 seconds

'His moving performance of the B flat Sonata, marked throughout by refined, discerning pianism and an uncommonly subtle ear for texture … Hough seeks out the music’s inwardness and fragility, its ethereal, self … communing remoteness … [D784] magnificently done … the lyrical music is limpidly coloured and poignantly inflected… Hough’s individual and searching reading of the two great sonatas … take their place alongside the most recommendable in the catalogue' (Gramophone)

'(A Minor D.784) especially sensitive in its uncertain switching between laughter and tears, a typically Schubertian trait reflected in Hough’s outstandingly delicate touch and his natural phrasing … These are profoundly musical and deeply thought-out performances' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'[D784] the pulsing triples … haunt the memory, as does the floating treatment of the lyrical subject in the finale' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It is obvious that Hough identifies deeply with this music … he is temperamentally attuned to its urgent lyricism and, sometimes, heartrendering pathos … lush tone, subtle pedalling, and a firm grasp of structure’ (American Record Guide)

'Any pianist who records Schubert must be sure of his ground. Stephen Hough here proves himself a worthy rival' (The Sunday Times)

'always thoughtful, in places transcendent' (Classic CD)

'This is, quite simply, some of the most beautiful Schubert I have heard in years, or (why not come out and say it?) ever. Irresistible. That is, indeed, the word for everything about this superb release … a musician capable of the greatest things … a performance that ranks with the most celebrated classic and modern versions in or out of the catalogs' (Fanfare, USA)

'[Hough] combines the imagination and pianistic colour of the past with the scholarship of the present, illuminating the very essence of the music he plays … a performance of extraordinary depth and beauty' (Pretoria News)

'Hough keeps listeners’ attention through the musical equivalent of whispering … a tribute to his elegant legato touch and phrasing as natural and unforced as breathing … Hough’s supernal playing and matchless poise make this album an unmitigated success' (CD Now)

'Stephen Hough has made his name in the post-Romantic repertoire, exploring rarely-known works of interest …. Here in a more familiar repertoire he works wonders through an approach which is particularly sensitive and intelligent. His accompanying notes are particularly valuable…. ' (Répertoire, France)

'Poetic, imaginative, deeply felt and keenly thought … a deeply loving treatment of the piano in performances of exceptional refinement' (Piano, Germany)

Piano Sonata in C major, D613

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
There are many fragments which were given the optimistic title of ‘sonata’ by Schubert. Abandoned in mid-flight, they range from virtually complete movements to mere sketches. Some of them were obviously put to one side because they lacked inspiration; others, perhaps, because they had wandered far into a strange forest and the composer felt unable or unwilling to rescue them. The Sonata in C major, D613 (1818), is an example of this latter type. Two movements survive, each peters out upon the approach of the recapitulation, and the music possesses a combination of eccentricity, charm, awkwardness, and originality which is endearing. Hummel (the original dedicatee of the B flat Sonata) is a clear influence in some of the passagework in both movements; but where the elder composer effortlessly spins yards of smooth yarn, Schubert becomes entangled in wildly spooling figuration in some of the most ungrateful writing ever conceived for the instrument. Whose hands could find bars 113–116 in the second movement anything other than like riding a one-wheel bicycle on a skating rink? Some have courageously chosen to complete these fragments, which is a fascinating undertaking; but on this recording I present them exactly as they were left by Schubert—an apt metaphor perhaps for the composer’s unfinished life.

from notes by Stephen Hough © 1998

Other albums featuring this work
'The Stephen Hough Piano Collection' (HOUGH1)
The Stephen Hough Piano Collection
Buy by post £4.50 This album is not yet available for download HOUGH1  Super-budget price sampler  
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