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Hyperion Records

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Keramisch-Mystisch (In der Art eines Stillebens) (1925) by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67996
Recording details: May 2013
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2014
Total duration: 5 minutes 13 seconds

'A new disc from Stephen Hough is always welcome. How will he surprise us this time and where will he take us? … there’s the dark and turbulent eponymous tone-poem and the far-from-restful presto finale of the 'Moonlight', given additional agitation by Hough’s spiky left-hand off-beats. The two adroitly chosen Nocturnes show that Chopin’s nocturnal reveries could be as dark and threatening in their own way as Hough’s, if his Sonata notturno luminoso is anything to go by. Angular, dissonant, fiery and often bleak, this work (18’23" in length) suggests, among its many images, ‘the irrational fears or the disturbing dreams which are only darkened by the harsh glare of a suspended, dusty light bulb’ (the composer’s useful route map in a note appended to Harriet Smith’s thoughtful booklet)' (Gramophone) » More

'Hough’s own Sonata … is rich in textural variety and harmonic colour, full of massive chunks of sound like sculpted blocks of marble lit from within, and quirky, obsessive toccatas that whirl by like a runaway roundabout that keeps changing direction. It is unsettling, playful and original … hearing a masterful pianist performing his own work is a special experience in itself … countless details prove rewarding: the smoky pedal in the C sharp minor Nocturne’s transition, the free-flying melodic lines of ‘In der Nacht’, the veiled duskiness of the Moonlight Sonata's opening movement' (BBC Music Magazine) » More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

'Hough's Sonata unfolds … with an immediately apparent structural logic and a harmonic vocabulary that conveys vivid emotional narrative. As one would expect from a pianist of Hough’s gifts, textures are imaginative, with plenty of excitement and variety. Interesting from the first hearing, it grows more so with repeated listening. Hough’s musical thinking has the same warmth and communicativeness as his performing persona, so that one looks forward to hearing more … the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata heard here is very good and deeply musical … the two Chopin Nocturnes, Op 27, on the other hand, are ethereal and abundantly poetic.

Though he’s recorded some, I’ve not heard Hough play Schumann before. What a pleasure it is! His Carnaval has great warmth and gentleness, along with appropriate doses of high spirits and antic, even slapstick humour. Extremely original in concept, this interpretation is seasoned throughout with a unique tempo rubato that is both apt and uncannily subtle. I don’t think I’ve sat through another Carnaval that was quite this much fun. You should have a listen' (International Record Review) » More

'Hyperion’s superb recording and Stephen Hough’s burnished sound make this a most appealing disc on the subject of music of the night … Hough gives a ‘Moonlight’ Sonata in a different league … finding cheeky accents in the central Allegretto and presenting an explosive finale. The two Chopin Nocturnes, both beautifully shaded and harmonically aware, precede Hough’s own Second Piano Sonata … Hough is his own finest interpreter, playing with a fierce belief in the score. Finally, Schumann’s Carnaval … the opening gestures are gloriously exuberant, introducing one of the finest readings available' (International Piano) » More

Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op 27 No 1
composer
1835; published 1836; Larghetto

Other recordings available for download
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Lívia Rév (piano)
Alfred Cortot (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The genre title ‘nocturne’ was fairly commonplace in early nineteenth-century piano music, influenced no doubt by the enhanced cultural status of the night (famous texts by Novalis and Madame de Staël), and also by the growing importance of the salon as a site of pianism. Initially it was applied to a wide diversity of pieces, but in the hands of John Field and Chopin it came to be associated with a pianistic style shaped by vocal imitation, whether of the French romance or the Italian aria. By the time Chopin came to compose his Nocturnes Op 27 in 1835, the genre was already a well-established one, with the archetype of the ‘nocturne sound’—ornamental melody supported by widespread arppeggiations—firmly in place. The Nocturnes of Op 27 broadly conform to this, but they did mark an intriguing change in how Chopin presented this genre to the world. From this point onwards, he published his Nocturnes in contrasted pairs rather than in groups of three, giving greater weight to the individual pieces within an opus but at the same time preserving a sense of their mutual compatibility. Chopin was happy to perform the individual Nocturnes of Op 27 separately (especially the second, which he played in Paris, England and Scotland), but he conceived them as perfectly complementary, with the darkly brooding C sharp minor of the first (James Huneker referred to ‘the gloomiest and grandest of Chopin’s moody canvasses’) transformed enharmonically into the consolatory, oneiric D flat major of the second. That these were pieces of exceptional artistic quality was immediately recognized when they were published in 1836, not least by Schumann in the pages of Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, where he described them as exemplifying a ‘new wave’ of piano music.

There are two formal principles underlying a good deal of Chopin’s music, and they are neatly exemplified by the two Nocturnes of Op 27. The C sharp minor relies on contrast. It is an expansive ternary design in which the middle section steps up the tempo and even more the drama, culminating in a brief waltz-like episode (another typical gesture; compare the First Ballade and Second Scherzo). The D flat major, on the other hand, is through-composed and goal-directed, and its construction is immensely subtle. There are two alternating melodies, of which the first is non-repetitive and aria-like, elaborated with an ever more expressive ornamentation, but remaining essentially static, if music can ever be static. The energy and momentum is provided by the second, stanzaic melody, which is developmental in character. Here the ornamentation has a rather different function. It is not so much an expressive enhancement of the melody as a means of driving the music in a dynamic and evolutionary way towards its major tension points; in other words it plays a key structural role in the music. Taken together, the two themes represent Chopin’s ornamental melody at its finest. The opera house was one obvious influence; Mozart another.

from notes by Jim Samson © 2009


Other albums featuring this work
'Chopin: Nocturnes' (CDD22013)
Chopin: Nocturnes
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'Chopin: Nocturnes & Impromptus' (CDA67371/2)
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MP3 £15.49FLAC £15.49ALAC £15.49Buy by post £20.00 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £23.25ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £23.25 CDA67371/2  2CDs   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Chopin: Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3' (CDA67706)
Chopin: Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3
'Chopin: Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3' (CDA30006)
Chopin: Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £8.50 CDA30006  Hyperion 30th Anniversary series  
'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)  
'Alfred Cortot – The Late Recordings, Vol. 3 – Chopin & Mendelssohn' (APR5573)
Alfred Cortot – The Late Recordings, Vol. 3 – Chopin & Mendelssohn
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99 APR5573  Download only  
'Chopin: Nocturnes & Impromptus' (SACDA67371/2)
Chopin: Nocturnes & Impromptus
This album is not yet available for download SACDA67371/2  2CDs Super-Audio CD — Deleted  

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