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Track(s) taken from CDA67456

Scherzo No 1 in B minor, Op 20

begun in Vienna circa 1831; completed in Paris in 1835

Stephen Hough (piano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: May 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2004
Total duration: 9 minutes 15 seconds

Cover artwork: Cupid and Psyche by Annie Louisa Swynnerton (1844-1933)
Oldham Art Gallery, Lancashire / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Nikolai Demidenko (piano)


'This is astonishing piano playing and Chopin interpretation, at its very best, fully measuresup to the greatness of these pieces. And to their freshness, not least; the Ballades and Scherzos, along with just about all Chopin's work, have been constsntly before the public, and Stephen Hough's accounts of them offer plenty of refinement to spirit and senses. It's not given to many to play them as well as he. Hough is unfailingly thoughtful; there's not a note that hasn't been cared for. …he combines a staggering technique with a genuinely engaging musical imagination. Handsomely recorded and produced.' (Gramophone)

'In the use of words like sensational, extraordinary, phenomenal, etc., critics have to be sparing, at risk of their credibility. But these adjectives are all appropriate to this new Chopin recital by Stephen Hough, which vaults him to the top rung in this repertoire, right next to Rubinstein' (American Record Guide)

'Hough has something unique and individual to say, with capricious daring and memorable directness. The beautifully balanced sound quality self-effacingly enhances what seemingly passes for a live experience uninhibited by microphones. Listen well and often for maximum reward and exhilaration.' (International Record Review)

'…to play Chopin with the rhythmic subtlety he requires without it seeming contrived is a rare gift. Stephen Hough has it in abundance' (The Sunday Times)

'Stephen Hough's quicksilver mastery of the idiom proves an unfailing guide throughout' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hough has an awe-inspiring technique and the ability to play even the most rushed passages of Chopin with extraordinary clarity' (Fanfare, USA)
In the First Scherzo (1832) a clarion call to attention launches the principal theme which sears upwards like a zig-zag flame, its key and gaunt texture insisted on throughout. The dissonance and syncopation are startlingly modern, and so is the second subject’s terse yet haunting declamation. The central B major reworking of the polish carol ‘Sleep, little Jesus’ is a no less spare yet conciliatory lullaby, its gently rocking motion and tranquillity finally clouded by ill-feeling as the storm returns, its fury confirmed in a pulverizing coda full of harsh surprises, and not just for Chopin’s contemporaries. This Scherzo was the favourite of Anton Rubinstein, most leonine of pianists, and was often known as ‘The Infernal Banquet’.

from notes by Bryce Morrison © 2004

Dans le Premier Scherzo (1832), un appel de clairon introduit le thème principal qui s’élance vers le ciel comme une flamme zigzagante, sa tonalité et sa texture épurée étant constamment mises en exergue. Les dissonances et syncopes sont étonnamment modernes, ainsi que la déclamation brusque et pourtant lancinante du second thème. La section centrale en si bémol majeur où Chopin a remanié le chant de Noël polonais «Dors, petit Jésus», est pareillement épurée tout en parvenant à concilier la douce oscillation de la berceuse. Le sentiment de tranquillité est pour finir obscurci par celui d’animosité alors que la tempête fait de nouveau rage. Sa furie est renforcée par une coda qui pulvérise tout et déborde de surprises pénibles, pas seulement pour les contemporains de Chopin. Souvent surnommé «Le banquet infernal», ce Scherzo était le préféré d’Anton Rubinstein, le plus léonin des pianistes.

extrait des notes rédigées par Bryce Morrison © 2004
Français: Isabelle Battioni

Im Ersten Scherzo (1832) sorgt ein fanfarenartiger Ruf für Aufmerksamkeit und kündigt das Hauptthema an, das wie eine Zickzack-Flamme emporschnellt und dessen Tonart und karge Textur stets beibehalten werden. Die Dissonanzen und Synkopierungen wie auch die knappe und doch eindringliche Deklamation des zweiten Themas sind überraschend modern. Im Mittelteil, der in H-Dur steht, wird das Polnische Weihnachtslied „Schlaf, kleiner Jesus“ verarbeitet. Es ist dies ebenfalls in seiner Anlage sparsam und trotzdem ein versöhnliches Schlaflied, dessen sanft wiegende Bewegung und Ruhe schließlich durch Verstimmtheit getrübt wird, als der Sturm zurückkehrt, dessen Zorn sich in einer heftigen Coda manifestiert, die voller überraschender Härten steckt (und das nicht nur in den Augen der Zeitgenossen Chopins). Dieses Scherzo war ein Lieblingsstück von Anton Rubinstein, dem Tastenlöwen schlechthin, und wurde oft als „Höllenbankett“ bezeichnet.

aus dem Begleittext von Bryce Morrison © 2004
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

Other albums featuring this work

Chopin: The Complete Works
CDS44351/6616CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Chopin: The Four Scherzi
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