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Track(s) taken from CDA66790

Piano Concerto No 1 in E minor


Stephen Hough (piano), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Foster (conductor)
Recording details: December 1994
Dudley Town Hall, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: September 1995
Total duration: 29 minutes 53 seconds


'Here, surely, is the jewel in the crown of Hyperion's absorbing series … A flawless marriage of composer, performance, recording and presentation … For here is a scintillating wit and ebullience that will make lesser technicians and stylists weep with envy … As magisterial as it is ear … tickling and affectionate, his playing glows with warmth…and pulses with the most nonchalant glitter in the finale … [Sauer] Throughout, haunting melodies are embroidered with the finest pianistic tracery and, once again, the performance is bewitching … [Sauer Cavatina] Hough’s caressing, fine … spun tone and long … breathed phrasing are a model for singers as well as pianists (Gramophone)

'A first class Hyperion recording.' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'Stephen Hough’s punchy, glittering account [of the Scharwenka] is electrifying, his precision and rhythmic élan, especially in the terrifying finale, is beyond praise' (International Record Review)

'These are two bracing works that set the pulse racing and heart soaring without any help from saccharin … Hough’s playing combines bravura and poetry in what the critics call "pure pianism"' (The Sunday Times)

'A glitteringly worthy addition to the Hyperion series … Stephen Hough exhibits dazzling flair in showpiece concertos by Sauer and Scharwenka – and plenty of stamina … Hough plays throughout with exhilarating momentum and dazzling technical address. I doubt whether any CD has so many double octave passages as this, but he never wearies, and his response to both works is as many-sided as the music itself … Not to be missed, on any account’ (Classic CD)

'Here are two long-neglected piano concertos that will thrill and delight you … Stephen Hough’s playing of it confirms his place as one of the half dozen greatest piano technicians of our time … Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto survey has never had a more distinguished protagonist than Stephen Hough' (Fanfare, USA)

'This Gramophone Award-winning disc thrills from start to finish … Hough’s meticulously voiced and glistening pianism really takes some believing considering the technical pressure exerted by these caruscatingly ingenious scores … Anyone who has yet to catch up with this remarkable disc should do so without delay' (International Piano)

'Virtuosity as impish as it is magisterial … [he] wings his way through every good-humoured page with a poetic and technical zest that takes us back to the great pianists of the past; to a golden age of piano playing' (BBC CD Review)

'Emotions run high, melody runs vibrantly and virtuoso playing takes the breath away … Hough rises fabulously to every demand with big-boned sound and grand-scale musical vision, jousting at full strength with the robust playing of the CBSO … It might seem unlikely for two obscure piano concertos to achieve such success at the Gramophone Awards, but this disc richly deserved its prize and remains one of Hyperion’s best releases to date' (Amazon.co.uk)

'The pianism of Hough leaves one breathless. His technique is fabulous, and tasteful phrasing wonderfully sensitive to the needs of the period … Musts for fans of 19th-century virtuosity' (In Tune, Japan)

‘this excellent recording allows us to listen, for the first time, to two neglected romantic concertos. It is hard to understand how two works of such bravura and of such calibre as these, that sound so immediately appealing, have remained forgotten for so long. Fortunately, the superlative quality of these versions compensates in excess for the wait … Stephen Hough performs memorably in both of these scores. A pianist of the subtlest musicality and unsurpassable technical resources – a powerful sound, clear and precise fingerings, insurmountable octave playing, enormous dynamic range – he knows how to lend eloquence and fluidity to his splendid musical discourse’ (Classica, France)
Sauer‘s E minor Concerto (dedicated to ‘the memory of my great master, Nicholas Rubinstein’) was very highly esteemed by Josef Hofmann, and the work had already gone through eight printings by 1908, when Sauer first played the work in America (16 October, in Boston). Its first performance was at the festival of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein in Bremen on 27 May 1900 with the composer as soloist. On 23 March 1902 he played the piece in St Petersburg with Mahler conducting, and he premiered his Second Piano Concerto (in C minor) in Berlin the same year, this time with Richard Strauss as conductor.

Sauer played the E minor Concerto almost exclusively during his 1908 American tour, and in Chicago local critics wrote: ‘It was no matter for astonishment that when the pianist-composer had brought the work to its conclusion a storm of genuine enthusiasm should sweep the house from gallery to floor … Mr Sauer represents a school of piano-playing that has all but vanished. The pianists who are now moulding the taste of the public give but little thought to real pianistic beauty. They are, one and all, engaged in the questionable task of reproducing with their instruments effects that are orchestral … but in the meantime we are in danger of forgetting the joys of pure pianism. To such joys Mr Sauer has awakened us.’

from notes by Steven Heliotes © 1995

Le concerto en mi mineur de Sauer (dédié à «la mémoire de mon grand maître Nicholas Rubinstein») était tenu en très haute estime par Josef Hofmann, et l’œuvre avait déjà été imprimée à huit reprises en 1908, époque à laquelle Sauer interpréta l’œuvre pour la première fois en Amérique (le 16 octobre, à Boston). Sa première représentation eut lieu au festival de l’Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein à Bremen, le 27 mai 1900, avec le compositeur comme soliste. Le 23 mars 1902, il interpréta le morceau à Saint-Pétersbourg sous la direction de Mahler, et il donna la même année la première de son second concerto pour piano (en do mineur) à Berlin, avec, cette fois-là, Richard Strauss comme chef d’orchestre.

Au cours de sa tournée américaine de 1908, Sauer interpréta presque exclusivement le Concerto en mi mineur, et, à Chicago, les critiques locaux écrivirent: «Il n’y avait pas matière à s’étonner lorsque, au moment où le pianiste-compositeur avait amené l’œuvre à sa conclusion, une tempête d’enthousiasme sincère emporta le bâtiment, de la galerie au plancher … Mr Sauer représente une école d’interprétation au piano qui a purement et simplement disparu. Les pianistes qui façonnent maintenant le goût du public considèrent à peine la véritable beauté pianistique. Ils se sont tous lancés dans la tâche contestable de reproduire, avec leurs instruments, des effets d’orchestre … mais, pendant ce temps-là, nous courons le risque d'oublier les plaisirs de l’art pur au piano. Mr Sauer nous a éveillé à de tels plaisirs.»

extrait des notes rédigées par Steven Heliotes © 1995
Français: Catherine Loridan

Sauers Concerto in e-moll (das „dem Andenken meines großen Meisters, Nikolai Rubinstein“ gewidmet ist) wurde von Josef Hofmann sehr geschätzt, und das Werk hatte bis zum Jahre 1908 schon acht Auflagen erreicht, als Sauer es zum ersten Mal in Amerika spielte (am 16. Oktober in Boston). Das Werk hatte seine Uraufführung anläßlich des Festivals des Allgemeinen Deutschen Musikvereins am 27. Mai 1900 in Bremen, mit dem Komponisten als Solist. Am 23. März 1902 spielte er das Stück in St. Petersburg unter der Leitung von Mahler, und im gleichen Jahr spielte er auch in der Uraufführung seines zweiten Klavierkonzerts (in c-moll) in Berlin, diesmal mit Richard Strauss als Dirigent.

Sauer spielte während seiner Amerikatournee im Jahre 1908 fast ausschließlich das Concerto in e-moll, und in Chicago schrieben die Kritiker: „Es überraschte niemanden, daß, als der Pianist und Komponist das Werk zu seinem Abschluß gebracht hatte, ein Sturm echter Begeisterung das Haus ergriff, von den Rängen bis zum Parkett … Herr Sauer ist ein Vertreter einer Schule des Klavierspiels, die schon fast untergegangen ist. Die Pianisten, die heutzutage den Geschmack der Öffentlichkeit formen, machen sich kaum einen Gedanken über wirkliche pianistische Schönheit. Sie sind, ohne Ausnahme, mit der fragwürdigen Aufgabe beschäftigt, mit ihren Instrumenten Effekte zu reproduzieren, die zum Orchester gehören … in der Zwischenzeit laufen wir jedoch Gefahr, die Freuden der reinen Kunst des Klavierspiels zu vergessen. Herr Sauer hat uns solche Freuden wieder bewußt gemacht.“

aus dem Begleittext von Steven Heliotes © 1995
Deutsch: Angela Ritter

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