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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66918
Recording details: July 1996
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: February 1997
Total duration: 11 minutes 23 seconds

'Wonderfully played … marvellous sound. This is a first-rate issue in every respect … only the most exalted comparisons will do for Stephen Hough's latest disc, and even they are struggling to compete. Hough has a dream-ticket combination of virtues—astonishing agility, a faultless ear for texture, fine-tuned stylistic sensibility and an exceptional understanding of harmonic and structural tensions. [His] recent Hyperion issues have given him a lot to live up to. This recital triumphantly does that' (Gramophone)

'It is hard to imagine better performances' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Must take pride of place among recordings of this repertoire. A most distinguished record in every way' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

‘Hough at his magical best’ (Classic FM Magazine)

'Superb performances … Style, elegance, and a power that is awe-inspiring when unleashed. César Franck has never been better served' (Classic CD)

'A superb production!' (Fanfare, USA)

'Playing of exquisite poise, intrepid technical brilliance and extraordinary insight. A peach of an issue' (Hi-Fi News)

'Un des pianistes les plus virtuoses au monde à ce jour, non seulement dans la vitesse et le prestesse, mais surtout dans l'imagination et la qualité sonore. Avec une telle maîtrise du clavier et des timbres, une telle lisibilité polyphonique, une telle intelligence du texte, Hough va à mon sens plus loin que bien d'autres pianistes, même les plus valeureux dans la compréhension profonde de cette musique' (Répertoire, France)

Troisième Choral, M40
dedicated to Eric Chadwick

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
‘Before I die, I am going to write some organ chorales, just as Bach did, but on quite a different plan’, declared Franck in 1889, and by the end of September the following year the Trois Chorals were completed, only a month or so before his death. Unlike Bach’s Chorale Preludes or Brahms’s similar swan-songs, these are more like three fantasies, although their construction is as skilful in its subtle use of cyclic form as anything Franck wrote. The third is the most ‘pianistic’, and there are (at least) three other piano transcriptions of it: by Blanche Selva, Paul Crossley, and Vladimir Viardo. Representing on the piano the textures and sounds of a large organ creates a veritable étude in pedalling (all three of them) and tone control, particularly in the attempt to suggest an imperceptible acoustical ambience, similar to a slight ‘cathedral’ overhang.

Franck’s original registration is quite specific in colour, particularly his love of reeds with their piercing timbre. It is interesting that at the moments of greatest melodic and harmonic sweetness in all three Chorales Franck asks for the most sour stops to be drawn. In the third Chorale, in the glorious central section, the left hand and pedals are gently painting a wash of harmonic colour with flutes and bourdon, whilst the ‘endless melody’ on the Swell manual has to be etched with the acid of the combined oboe and trumpet stops. However, this is one of the peculiarities of Franck’s style—the non troppo dolce that appears quite often in the piano works—with its poignant, emotional tug between the austere and the sentimental: the ice-cold marble altar, but the burning candles and the sweet incense.

from notes by Stephen Hough © 1997

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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