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Hyperion Records

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Romantic Landscape (1860) by Antal Ligeti (1823-1890)
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67085
Recording details: November 1999
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: November 2000
Total duration: 14 minutes 41 seconds

'At last, Hough tackles Liszt’s Sonata on record and the result is as musicianly as this fine pianist’s admirers might expect' (Gramophone)

'Hough transforms the rumbling, chromatic bass line [Ballade No 2] into an almost terrifyingly atmospheric setting' (BBC Music Magazine)

'[A] beautifully rendered collection … the wonderful refinement and quiet poetry of his playing is a constant joy. A highly distinguished disc' (The Guardian)

‘This is a superlative recording, one that defies criticism. Hough’s pianism is evocative, spiritual, and technically and tonally scrupulous. What better compliment could be given than to say that this is the way one imagines these pieces might have sounded when Liszt himself played them? Recorded sound is ideal, and an excellent, detailed booklet adds to the value of this outstanding release’ (American Record Guide)

'Hough at his meticulous best' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Thoughtful, intelligent, and beautifully recorded too – a special release' (CDReview)

Ballade No 2 – Deuxième Ballade, S171
1853; in B minor

Other recordings available for download
Leslie Howard (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The more substantial Ballade No 2 is one of Liszt’s finest piano works. It has been linked with the story of Hero and Leander, but it is more generally accepted to have been inspired by Gottfried Bürger’s ballad Lenore. Sacheverell Sitwell found in the work ‘great happenings on an epic scale, barbarian invasions, cities in flames—tragedies of public, rather than private, import’. Composed in the spring of 1853, shortly after the completion of the Sonata, the Second Ballade is a continuation of Liszt’s thoughts in the key of B minor, and similarly explores subtle methods of thematic transformation to achieve a range of evocative moods, bonded by their motivic coherence. The exposition comprises a darkly ominous chromatic undertow to a rising scalic motif, contrasted (via a memorable harmonic punctuation) by a sunnier ‘Allegretto’ theme in chords. Liszt then repeats the exposition a semitone lower, in B flat minor—this is a common formal device in Liszt’s music—before, as in the First Ballade, he includes a march. The magnificent sense of narrative drama, as well as the opulent rhetoric—the characteristic Lisztian sonorities including powerful broken octaves, sky-rocketing scales, and a passage that must have been an inspiration for the cadenza to Grieg’s Piano Concerto—are enhanced by the magical thematic metamorphosis that conjures a beautiful quasi-operatic melody (at 12'08). Here, in many respects, is the essence of Liszt’s creativity—the skilful manipulation of thematic ideas, the fusion of drama and lyricism, the innovative approach to instrumental texture and formal architecture, and the centrality of pianistic virtuosity to the music’s expressive vocabulary.

from notes by Tim Parry © 2000

Other albums featuring this work
'Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 2 – Ballades, Legends & Polonaises' (CDA66301)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 2 – Ballades, Legends & Polonaises
'Liszt: Complete Piano Music' (CDS44501/98)
Liszt: Complete Piano Music
MP3 £160.00FLAC £160.00ALAC £160.00Buy by post £200.00 CDS44501/98  99CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)  

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