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Track(s) taken from CDA66969

Serenade and Allegro giocoso in B minor, Op 43


Stephen Hough (piano), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Foster (conductor)
Recording details: January 1997
Dudley Town Hall, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: August 1997
Total duration: 12 minutes 48 seconds


'It should perhaps come as no surprise that Stephen Hough should prove so perfectly attuned to these works … if you opt for just a single recording, this would make an excellent first choice … the soft, stylish arpeggios that open the first work on the disc announce immediately that something special is on the way. Hough is now clearly first recommendation in the concertos' (Gramophone)

'[Hough] can scamper with the best and is able to incorporate delightful capriciousness without derailing the flow of thought … These performances…boast of nearly ideal lightness, vivacity and impetus' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Stephen Hough has the ideal qualities of sharp attention to rhythmic detail and an impeccable fluidity of line and phrase' (The Observer)

'You can tell this is special from the first chord … I don't think [Stephen Hough] has an equal on record in this music, even with competitors like Andras Schiff and Murray Perahia. Issues like this add to the feeling that the great Mendelssohn reappraisal is underway at last. It's long overdue' (The Independent)

'Biting intensity, yet with freer expressiveness and bigger contrasts he also brings out extra poetry and … a sparkling wit … A constant delight' (The Guardian)

'Once again we have Stephen Hough lavishing his exciting gifts upon a splendid Mendelssohn programme. I cannot envisage this splendidly recorded disc being absent from the year's honours list' (Classic CD)

'Expressive playing from this fine soloist – one has to marvel at anyone who can take on those devilish tempos' (The Scotsman)

'Hough offers far greater elegance and plusher tone … Hough is, as always, a delight to listen to, such as in his quicksilver scattering of thirds in the last movement of the Second Concerto' (Fanfare, USA)

'Glitteringly performed' (Daily Mail)

'Hough’s pianism …is elegant, spirited and poetic, and well-attuned, too, to the swirling skittishness of the concertos' finales … Hough’s reading, as throughout this disc, is a joy' (Birmingham Post)

'He is all fleet-fingered exhilaration in the outer movements and relaxes appealingly when the music turns inwards' (International Piano)

'Stephen Hough searches out the lyrical essence of the music rather than going for glitz’ (Stereo Review)

'Stephen Hough is a player of formidable talent, capturing the essence and spirit of Mendelssohn’s driving enthusiasm and creative wonder' (Yorkshire Post)

'Stephen Hough is, undoubtedly, one of the most elegant pianists before the public today … Hough does not fail to underscore this in the brilliant pyrotechnics' (Soundscapes, Australia)

'An impressive achievement all round' (Piano, Germany)
This attractive though slight work was written in 1838, a productive year which saw also the start of work on the famous Violin Concerto and the appearance of the F major Violin Sonata and First Cello Sonata in B flat. As with the Capriccio, the Serenade provokes what prove to be rather false expectations, both in its ostensible gravitas and in the elaborate delicacy of its piano writing. After this the Allegro, though marked also con fuoco in the piano part, does indeed convey what Radcliffe terms ‘a very well-behaved and genteel hilarity’, and the virtuosity is scaled down to suggest again a sort of ‘Song without Words, writ large’. If we glimpse here an endemic tendency towards almost dangerously regular phrase lengths, found in almost all Mendelssohn’s works and on occasion evocative of Blake’s ‘fearful symmetry’ in the minds of the unconverted, the day is nonetheless saved by the composer’s customary fecundity as a melodist. As before, the orchestra is allowed the last word.

from notes by Francis Pott © 1997

Cette œuvre légère mais attrayante date de 1838, année prolifique qui vit aussi le commencement du célèbre Concerto pour violon et l’apparition de la Sonate pour violon en fa majeur et de la Première sonate pour violoncelle en si bémol. Comme le Capriccio, la Serenade engendre des attentes qui se révèlent plutôt erronées, que ce soit dans sa solennité ostensible ou dans la délicatesse élaborée de son écriture pianistique. Après quoi l’Allegro, quoique également marqué con fuoco dans la partie de piano, véhicule véritablement ce que Radcliffe appela «une hilarité affectée, très bien élevée», tandis que la virtuosité est réduite pour suggérer à nouveau une sorte de «Lied ohne Worte; écrit en grand». Même si nous entrapercevons ici une tendance endémique à des longueurs de phrases presque dangeureusement régulières, la mise est sauvée par l’habituelle fécondité du Mendelssohn-mélodiste. Une fois encore, le dernier mot revient à l’orchestre.

extrait des notes rédigées par Francis Pott © 1997
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Dieses unscheinbare, aber dennoch attraktive Stück wurde 1838 komponiert, einem produktiven Jahr, in dem Mendelssohn auch die Arbeit an seinem berühmten Violinkonzert aufnahm und das Violinkonzert in F-Dur sowie die Erste Cellosonate in B-Dur erschienen sind. Genau wie im Fall des Capriccio erweckt auch die Serenade Erwartungen, die sich in bezug auf seine angebliche Gravitas und seine ausgefeilte Feinheit im Klavierpart als falsch herausstellen. Danach folgt das Allegro, das im Klavierteil zwar auch als con fuoco gekennzeichnet ist, in der Tat jedoch genau das übermittelt, was Radcliffe als „eine wohlkontrollierte und sanfte Heiterkeit“ bezeichnete. Seine Virtuosität ist soweit zurückgeschraubt, daß es erneut deutlich an eine Art „Lied ohne Worte“ denken läßt Auch wenn wir hierin eine örtlich begrenzte Tendenz zu fast gefährlicher regelmäßigerer Phrasenläge erspähen, ist noch nicht aller Tage Abend, denn der Komponist beweist seinen gewohnten Einfallsreichtum anhand seiner Melodien. Wie auch schon zuvor wird dem Orchester das letzte Wort erteilt.

aus dem Begleittext von Francis Pott © 1997
Deutsch: Inge Schneider

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