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Track(s) taken from CDA67598

Three Mozart Transformations, after Poulenc

written for the 2006 Salzburg Festival

Stephen Hough (piano)
Recording details: November 2006
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2008
Total duration: 5 minutes 56 seconds

Cover artwork: Garden of Eden (oil on linen) by Anthony Mastromatteo (b?)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist / Private Collection


'There are all too few pianists with the equivalent of Hough's three Michelin stars … opening with two of Mozart's solo masterpieces, the ear is welcomed into an intimate, pellucid sound world with a sophistcated grading of dynamics … [Liszt-Busoni Fantasy on Non piu andrai] provides a hair-raising bravura display that deserves to be heard more often. At least, when played like this' (Gramophone)

'A bold and dramatic account of Mozart's K475 C minor Fantasia opens this memorable and imaginatively devised recital. While emphasising the prophetically romantic nature of the music, Stephen Hough takes great care not to overplay its more forceful passages … the final party piece, the Liszt/Busoni Fantasia on themes from The Marriage of Figaro, is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser given an exhilharating performance guaranteed to bring the house down' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A scintillating exploration of Mozartian style in tribute works by other composers. Easily the most attractive is by Stephen Hough himself, who takes three small pieces and reinvents them in the style of Poulenc. The result is a seductive, spicy and totally original addition to the genre, and a nice counterweight to the Liszt-Busoni Figaro fantasia, which the prodigiously talented Hough plays with his trademark intensity' (The Observer)

'We look forward to Hough's recordings. They are never disappointing, and this one is a classic. With excellent engineering and Harriet Smith's very informative notes, only those who do not value great pianism can afford to miss it' (American Record Guide)

'Hyperion's imaginative new collection shows this protean artist to be equally at home in the Classical repertoire. Not surprisingly, he offers romantic and highly pianistic Mozart … the result is a trio of performances of splendid variety … the recital ends rousingly with Liszt's Figaro Fantasia. Compared to the other post-Mozartian rarities, of course, this is standard fare—but it sounds freshly minted in this improvisatory reading … notable for his revelatory inner-line clarity even in the most congested textures and for his ability to reveal the underlying gestures in passages, that, even in Gilels' hands, emerge as a mere blur of notes. Excellent Hyperion sound and useful notes by Harriet Smith only add to the virtues of this first-rate release' (International Record Review)

'In a typically well-made progamme, the compelling British pianist springboards of Mozart into a series of tributes. The virtuoisic challenges are handled with liquid clarity and intelligent expression. Mesmerising in the Mozart, the transition to a more modern take comes surprisingly fluently' (The Times)

'Here's another winning, imaginatively conceived disc from Britain's finest pianist … it is unexpected and delightful programme-building. Prized for his pianism, Hough is also a superb Mozartian. He lends these Fantasias an almost Beethovenian weight and depth of expression … Hough's playing is dazzling throughout' (The Sunday Times)

'A new record from Stephen Hough is always something to look foward to, and A Mozart Album is no exception … altogether an outsanding disc released by Hyperion' (Liverpool Daily Post)

'Hough's Mozart playing is so fresh, so sensitive to the harmonic twists and the way the prase can simultaneously suggest different feelings … this 2006 Keener and Eadon production from St George's, Bristol, is impeccably presented, with a congenial note by Harriet Smith' (International Piano)

'In this deft tribute to Mozart's genius, splendid pianist Stephen Hough leads with a pair of the composer's own works before segueing into transcriptions, homages and his own Poulenc-inflected 'transformations'. Hough is incapable of an unengaging performance, as he demonstrates right off with an account of the Fantasia in C minor, K475 that pulls back from stormy drama for something more tactfully measured and delicate. An unfinished Liszt fantasia on 'The Marriage of Figaro' music, amended by Busoni, gets a wittily theatrical treatment' (San Francisco Chronicle)

'Stephen Hough generally does not disappoint in terms of programming … [his]Mozart is exemplary, with the Fantasias approached with a free sense of tempo and a careful attention to the dynamic contrasts and articulations in the score … the pendant piece is the Liszt-Busoni fantasia on themes from Marriage of Figaro, in which Hough displays his considerable technical wizardry and whimsical attention to details' (IonArts.com)

'[Hough] is certainly one of today's most thoughtful and thought-provoking pianists, as his latest thematic Hyperion set underscores … playing with a mix of depth and detail that only the best pianists achieve … he connects kindred spirits in a witty, lovely way' (The Star-Ledger, USA)
Stephen Hough writes of his Mozart Transformations (after Poulenc):

I wrote these three transcriptions as a result of being invited by the 2006 Salzburg Festival to give a recital with a Mozart/contemporary theme. Not being able to find anything suitable with which to add a little modern twist, I thought I would compose something myself. Poulenc and Mozart seem to have little in common at first sight, but perhaps their similar sense of humour, with its naughty, child-like quality, as well as a love for melody and the human voice, gives them a certain kinship.
The Minuet and Klavierstück (Nos 1 and 2) are very early piano pieces of the utmost simplicity—no chords, merely two independent lines, one in each small-spanned hand. I have kept the childlike melodies exactly as in the original, but allowed the harmonies to wander down the most adult paths. The Minuet’s first four bars are original Mozart, but after that we slink into other ‘bars’ where Parisian aromas of Gauloises and Guerlain curl seductively around the melody. The Klavierstück recalls Poulenc in one of his Stravinskian moods—piquant, spiky and ironic—until it dissolves into the wound-down innocence of a music box. The late song Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge (No 3) is a precious shaving from the workbench of the third movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B flat major, K595. As in the Minuet, I have taken the original simple melody and added harmonic spice—sometimes seductive, sometimes strident.

from notes by Harriet Smith © 2008

Stephen Hough en personne écrit à propos de ses Mozart Transformations (after Poulenc):

J’ai composé ces trois transcriptions car le Festival de Salzbourg m’a invité, en 2006, à donner un récital sur le thème Mozart/contemporain. Ne trouvant rien qui puisse apporter un petit tour moderne, j’ai songé à écrire quelque chose moi-même. Au premier abord, Poulenc et Mozart semblent avoir peu en commun, mais peut-être leur sens de l’humour, polisson et enfantin, leur amour de la mélodie et de la voix humaine leur confèrent-ils une certaine parenté.
Le Menuet et le Klavierstück (nos 1 et 2) sont des pièces pianistiques très précoces, simplissimes—pas d’accords, juste deux lignes indépendantes, une à chaque main de petit empan. J’ai conservé les mélodies enfantines exactement en l’état, mais j’ai laissé les harmonies enfiler les plus adultes des chemins. Les quatre premières mesures [«bars» en anglais] du Menuet sont celles de l’original mozartien, après quoi nous échouons dans d’autres «bars», où les senteurs parisiennes de Gauloises et de Guerlain s’élèvent en volutes séductrices autour de la mélodie. Le Klavierstück rappelle Poulenc dans une de ses humeurs stravinskiennes—piquant, ombrageux et ironique—jusqu’à ce qu’il se dissolve dans l’innocence décompressée d’une boîte à musique. Le lied tardif Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge (no 3) est un précieux copeau de l’établi du troisième mouvement du Concerto pour piano en si bémol majeur, K595 de Mozart. Comme pour le Menuet, j’ais pris la mélodie d’origine, dans toute sa simplicité, et j’y ai ajouté des épices harmoniques—tantôt enveloppantes, tantôt stridentes.

extrait des notes rédigées par Harriet Smith © 2008
Français: Hypérion

Stephen Hough schreibt über seine Mozart Transformations (after Poulenc):

Ich schrieb diese drei Transkriptionen nachdem ich von den Salzburger Festspielen eingeladen wurde, ein Recital mit einem Mozart/zeitgenössischen Thema zu geben. Da ich nichts finden konnte, mit dem ich einen zeitgenössischen Blickwinkel geben könnte, dachte ich, dass ich selbst etwas komponieren könnte. Poulenc und Mozart haben auf den ersten Blick nur wenig gemein, aber vielleicht verbindet sie ihr ähnlicher Humor mit seiner spitzbübischen, kindlichen Qualität sowie ihre Liebe für Melodik und den Gesang.
Das Menuett und Klavierstück (Nr. 1 und 2) sind sehr frühe und sehr einfache Klavierstücke—ohne Akkorde, nur zwei unabhängige Linien, jeweils eine in der Spanne jeder kleinen Hand. Ich habe die kindlichen Melodien genau wie im Original beibehalten, aber der Harmonik erlaubt, die erwachsensten Pfade zu erkunden. Die ersten vier Takte des Menuetts sind Original-Mozart, aber danach schleichen wir uns in Bars, wo sich die Pariser Aromen von Gauloises und Guerlain verführerisch um die Melodie kräuseln. Das Klavierstück erinnert an Poulenc in Strawinskyscher Stimmung—pikant, kantig und ironisch—bis es sich in die gelassene Unschuld einer Spieluhr auflöst. Das späte Lied Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge (Nr. 3) ist ein kostbarer Hobelspan von der Werkbank des dritten Satzes in Mozarts Klavierkonzert B-Dur, K595. Wie im Menuett habe ich die schlichte Originalmelodie beibehalten und—manchmal verführerisch, manchmal scharf—harmonisch gewürzt.

aus dem Begleittext von Harriet Smith © 2008
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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