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Track(s) taken from CDA67686

Valse nonchalante, Op 110


Stephen Hough (piano)
Recording details: July 2008
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Rachel Smith
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: March 2009
Total duration: 3 minutes 34 seconds

Cover artwork: When all is said & done (2006) by Anthony Mastromatteo (b?)
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist / Private Collection


'Listening to this recital I felt as though I were a guest at a sumptuous banquet … it is the different wines accompanying each course that make this meal special, that is to say the discriminating premier cru tone, touch (what magically hushed pianissimos) and masterly pedalling to which the diners are treated, each element adjusted to each composer yet all unmistakably Stephen Hough—vintage Hough at that, for here is a pianist at the height of his powers … a great piano recording and front runner for instrumental disc of the year' (Gramophone)

'The glinting wit and thorough seriousness of pianist Stephen Hough's playing—attributes you desire from all virtuosi but do not always find—make this mixed repertoire disc a particular joy' (The Observer)

'Variations sérieuses is given a spontaneous and nimble account, fully relaying Mendelssohn's dazzling invention; and also his heart … [Beethoven Op 111] the second movement has rarely sounded more luminous … [Invitation to the Dance] Hough's performance is scintillating and affectionate, notably lucid in how the hands interact. The Chopin waltzes are pleasurable for Hough's unaffected and crisp (but never inflexible) playing … this thoughtfully conceived, superbly executed and produced release warrants a most enthusiastic recommendation' (International Record Review)

'Hough's clear-sighted path through both the Mendelssohn and Beethoven, every detail perfectly placed, belies the charm he brings to the bravura glitter of the Weber, the subtle ambiguities of Debussy's La Plus que Lente, and the more insidious allure of the Liszt. It's a beautifully accomplished sequence' (The Guardian)

'It's hard to think of another pianist who could encompass such high seriousness—his techincal brilliance is never an alibi for superficiality in Beethoven and Mendelssohn—and high jinks within the same programme … Hough wears his virtuosity so lightly that the fantastically difficult notes seem to pour off his fingers with effortless ease. His Weber and Liszt are played with staggering bravura, his Chopin is both brilliant and wistful, and his Waltzing Matilda makes you want to laugh out loud' (The Sunday Times)
Saint-Saëns was writing waltzes even before his hands were big enough to play them. Among his published works, however, there are only seven piano waltzes, beginning with the Menuet et Valse in 1872 and ending with four examples so attractively varied—Valse mignonne, Valse nonchalante, Valse langoureuse and Valse gaie—that, although they were written and published separately over a period of sixteen years, they could have been intended as an informal kind of series.

The composer’s own favourite seems to have been Valse nonchalante, which he orchestrated in 1913 for a ballerina called Napierkowska. ‘She’s not a Russian dancer’, he explained, ‘she’s a Parisienne with a Polish grandfather. She has great talent and amazing suppleness.’ Dancing the Valse nonchalante—with its relaxed tempo and seductive melodic style reminiscent of the Parisian café-concert waltz, its fluid D flat major harmonies and its echoes of Chopin in the more agitated sections—Mlle Napierkowska must have been perfectly cast. She might even have been talented enough to compensate for the inevitable absence in the orchestral arrangement of the discreet pedal-effect sonorities to be heard towards the end of the piano version.

from notes by Gerald Larner © 2009

Saint-Saëns écrivait des valses avant même que ses mains soient assez grandes pour les jouer. Ses œuvres publiées ne comptent cependant que sept valses pianistiques: la première fut le Menuet et Valse (1872); les quatre dernières—Valse mignonne, Valse nonchalante, Valse langoureuse et Valse gaie—sont si joliment variées que, bien qu’écrites et publiées séparément sur une période de seize ans, elles auraient pu être pensées comme une sorte de série informelle.

Saint-Saëns préférait, semble-t-il, la Valse nonchalante, qu’il orchestra en 1913 pour une ballerine appelée Napierkowska. «Ce n’est pas une danseuse russe», précisa-t-il, «elle est parisienne avec un grand-père polonais. Elle a un grand talent et une souplesse étonnante». Pour danser la Valse nonchalante—avec son tempo détendu et son style mélodique aguicheur, façon valse de café-concert parisien, avec ses fluides harmonies en ré bémol majeur et ses échos chopiniens dans les sections plus agitées—, Madame Napierkowska devait effectivement être parfaite. Peut-être même son talent lui permettait-il de compenser l’inévitable absence, dans l’arrangement orchestral, des discrets effets de pédale présents vers la fin de la version pianistique.

extrait des notes rédigées par Gerald Larner © 2009
Français: Hypérion

Saint-Saëns schrieb bereits Walzer, als seine Hände noch zu klein waren, um sie selbst zu spielen. Unter seinen veröffentlichten Werken befinden sich jedoch nur sieben Klavierwalzer, die mit dem Menuet et Valse (1872) beginnen und mit vier so verschiedenen Werken—Valse mignonne, Valse nonchalante, Valse langoureuse und Valse gaie—enden, dass sie, obwohl sie jeweils einzeln komponiert und über einen Zeitraum von 16 Jahren herausgegeben wurden, als eine Art informeller Zyklus angelegt sein könnten.

Das Lieblingsstück des Komponisten selbst war wohl die Valse nonchalante, die er 1913 für eine Ballerina namens Napierkowska orchestrierte. „Sie ist keine russische Tänzerin“, erklärte er, „sondern eine Pariserin mit einem polnischen Großvater. Sie besitzt großes Talent und eine beeindruckende Geschmeidigkeit.“ Mme Napierkowska muss die perfekte Besetzung für die Valse nonchalante gewesen sein. Das Stück hat ein entspanntes Tempo und einen anmutigen melodischen Stil, der mit seinen fließenden Des-Dur-Harmonien und Chopin-Anklängen in den eindringlicheren Passagen an Konzertwalzer der Pariser Cafés erinnert. Möglicherweise war die Tänzerin sogar so talentiert, dass sie das unvermeidliche Ausbleiben der subtilen Pedaleffekte der Klavierversion in der Fassung für Orchester wettmachen konnte.

aus dem Begleittext von Gerald Larner © 2009
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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