Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67027

Piano Sonata in A minor, D784


Stephen Hough (piano)
Recording details: October 1997
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Mike Hatch
Release date: March 1999
Total duration: 21 minutes 23 seconds


'His moving performance of the B flat Sonata, marked throughout by refined, discerning pianism and an uncommonly subtle ear for texture … Hough seeks out the music’s inwardness and fragility, its ethereal, self … communing remoteness … [D784] magnificently done … the lyrical music is limpidly coloured and poignantly inflected… Hough’s individual and searching reading of the two great sonatas … take their place alongside the most recommendable in the catalogue' (Gramophone)

'The recording is of exemplary clarity, warmth and truthfulness' (Gramophone)

'(A Minor D.784) especially sensitive in its uncertain switching between laughter and tears, a typically Schubertian trait reflected in Hough’s outstandingly delicate touch and his natural phrasing … These are profoundly musical and deeply thought-out performances' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'[D784] the pulsing triples … haunt the memory, as does the floating treatment of the lyrical subject in the finale' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It is obvious that Hough identifies deeply with this music … he is temperamentally attuned to its urgent lyricism and, sometimes, heartrendering pathos … lush tone, subtle pedalling, and a firm grasp of structure’ (American Record Guide)

'Any pianist who records Schubert must be sure of his ground. Stephen Hough here proves himself a worthy rival' (The Sunday Times)

'always thoughtful, in places transcendent' (Classic CD)

'This is, quite simply, some of the most beautiful Schubert I have heard in years, or (why not come out and say it?) ever. Irresistible. That is, indeed, the word for everything about this superb release … a musician capable of the greatest things … a performance that ranks with the most celebrated classic and modern versions in or out of the catalogs' (Fanfare, USA)

'[Hough] combines the imagination and pianistic colour of the past with the scholarship of the present, illuminating the very essence of the music he plays … a performance of extraordinary depth and beauty' (Pretoria News)

'Hough keeps listeners’ attention through the musical equivalent of whispering … a tribute to his elegant legato touch and phrasing as natural and unforced as breathing … Hough’s supernal playing and matchless poise make this album an unmitigated success' (CD Now)

'Stephen Hough has made his name in the post-Romantic repertoire, exploring rarely-known works of interest …. Here in a more familiar repertoire he works wonders through an approach which is particularly sensitive and intelligent. His accompanying notes are particularly valuable…. ' (Répertoire, France)

'Poetic, imaginative, deeply felt and keenly thought … a deeply loving treatment of the piano in performances of exceptional refinement' (Piano, Germany)
The Sonata in A minor, D784 (1823), and the Sonata in B flat major, D960 (1828), are the first and last of Schubert’s mature works in this form, and the former was almost certainly written at the time that Schubert first learned of the seriousness of his illness. The chilling desolation of its first movement’s first subject seems to be a direct response to that tragic news, the ‘strong-weak’ appoggiatura in bar 2 sighing wearily or angrily throughout the entire movement in both melody and accompaniment. However, as in so much of Schubert’s work, it is the moments of major tonality which seem the saddest. Perhaps only Mozart equals Schubert in this ability to transform the sunshine of a major key into a mood of heartbreak and pain.

The second movement is strangely unsettling for three reasons: because of the almost enforced normality of its theme after the bittersweet bleakness of the first movement; because this theme is doubled in the tenor voice, a claustrophobic companion seeming to drag it down; and because of the constant, murmuring interjections (ppp) between the theme’s statements. The helter-skelter finale introduces a note of panic, as triplets trip over themselves in their scurrying counterpoint. Here, as in the first movement, the glorious second subject, in the major, seems unsure whether to laugh or cry, calling to mind Rückert’s poem Lachen und Weinen which Schubert set the same year.

Beauty captivates the flesh in order to obtain permission to pass right to the soul. Beauty is a fruit which we look at without trying to seize it. (Simone Weil)

from notes by Stephen Hough © 1998

La Sonate en la mineur, D784 (1823) et la Sonate en si bémol majeur, D960 (1828) sont les première et dernière sonates abouties de Schubert—la première fut presque certainement écrite à l’époque où il apprit la gravité de sa maladie, et la désolation glaciale du premier sujet du premier mouvement semble directement répondre à cette nouvelle tragique, l’appogiature «fort-faible» (mesure 2) murmurant avec lassitude, ou colère, tout au long du mouvement, et dans la mélodie et dans l’accompagnement. Toutefois, comme souvent chez Schubert, ce sont les moments en majeur qui semblent les plus tristes. Seul Mozart, peut-être, l’égale dans cette capacité à transformer le rayonnement d’une tonalité majeure en une atmosphère de déchirement, de douleur.

Le deuxième mouvement est étrangement troublant pour trois raisons: primo, la normalité presque forcée de son thème, après l’austérité aigre-douce du premier mouvement; secundo, le doublement de ce thème au ténor, un compagnon claustrophobe semblant l’entraîner vers le fond; tertio, les interjections constantes, murmurantes (ppp), entre les énonciations du thème. Le Finale, à la débandade, introduit une note de panique, qui voit les triolets trébucher sur eux-mêmes, dans leur contrepoint précipité. Comme dans le premier mouvement, le glorieux second sujet, en majeur, semble ne savoir s’il doit rire ou pleurer, et rappelle le poème de Rückert, Lachen und Weinen, que Schubert mit en musique la même année.

La beauté captive la chair pour obtenir la permission d’atteindre directement l’âme. La beauté est un fruit que nous contemplons sans tenter de nous en saisir. (Simone Weil)

extrait des notes rédigées par Stephen Hough © 1998
Français: Hypérion

Die Sonate in a-Moll D784 (1823) und die Sonate in B-Dur D960 (1828) sind das erste und das letzte von Schuberts reifen Werken in dieser Form, und das erste wurde mit an Sicherheit grenzender Wahrscheinlichkeit um die Zeit komponiert, als Schubert zum ersten Mal erfahren hat, wie ernst seine Erkrankung war. Das kalte Elend des ersten Themas seines ersten Satzes macht den Eindruck, als sei es eine direkte Reaktion auf die tragische Nachricht, und die „Stark-Schwach“-Appoggiatura im zweiten Takt seufzt mal überdrüssig, mal zornig den ganzen Satz hindurch sowohl in der Melodie als auch in der Begleitung. Es sind jedoch wie in vielen von Schuberts Werken auch hier die ganz in Dur gehaltenen Momente, die am traurigsten wirken. Mozart ist wohl der einzige, der es mit Schuberts Fähigkeit aufnehmen kann, den Sonnenschein einer Durtonart in eine von Herzeleid und Schmerz geprägte Stimmung zu verwandeln.

Der zweite Satz ist aus drei Gründen seltsam beunruhigend: wegen der beinahe gezwungenen Normalität seines Themas im Anschluß an die bittersüße Freudlosigkeit des ersten Satzes, wegen der Verdoppelung dieses Themas in der Tenorstimme—eine beengende Beigabe, die es zu zermürben scheint—und wegen der ständigen raunenden Einwürfe (ppp) zwischen den einzelnen Darbietungen des Themas. Das überstürzte Finale läßt einen Anflug von Panik aufkommen, wenn Triolen bei ihrem hastigen Kontrapunkt ins Straucheln geraten. Hier wie im ersten Satz scheint das herrliche zweite Thema nicht sicher zu sein, ob es lachen oder weinen soll, so daß man sich an Rückerts Gedicht Lachen und Weinen erinnert fühlt, das Schubert im selben Jahr vertont hat.

Schönheit bezaubert das Fleisch, um Erlaubnis einzuholen, bis in die Seele vorzudringen. Schönheit ist eine Frucht, die wir betrachten, ohne zu versuchen, ihrer habhaft zu werden. (Simone Weil)

aus dem Begleittext von Stephen Hough © 1998
Deutsch: Anne Steeb/Bernd Müller

Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...