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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: 13 minutes 43 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)

Grand caprice, M13 Op 5

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Grand Caprice (called ‘Premier Grand Caprice’ in d’Indy’s edition, although Franck never wrote a second such piece) takes us back forty years to 1843 and to Franck’s youthful period in the salons of Paris. It is clearly the best of his early piano pieces although, in an uncharacteristically critical moment, d’Indy writes that ‘it addresses itself chiefly to lovers of virtuosity’. Cortot is more perceptive, seeing it as ‘the most individual’ of the early piano works, and it has some moments of genuine inspiration, particularly an early use of thematic transformation where the jaunty 6/8 prestissimo G flat major theme becomes the pulsating, pianissimo C sharp minor theme of the central section, with its swirls of impossibly awkward left-hand arpeggios. (If Franck’s hand had been an inch smaller, most of the technical problems in his keyboard works would not exist!) There is the clear shadow of Liszt hovering over the piece, not surprisingly; but Alkan’s chunky orchestral textures are there too, and even a prophetic hint of the Brahms F sharp minor Sonata, to be written ten years later.

from notes by Stephen Hough © 1997

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