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Track(s) taken from CDA67456

Scherzo No 4 in E major, Op 54


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: 11 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)
When Chopin is at his happiest, most outwardly serene, then, for the pianist, he is at his most treacherous. The Fourth Scherzo is the only one in a major key and its mercurial brilliance and whimsy are notoriously hard to control. Significantly, this Scherzo was Saint-Saëns’s favourite (it is, after all, the most urbane, Gallic and sparkling of the set) and both he and Pierné later used its potential to dazzling and mischievous effect in their G minor and C minor piano concertos. A later mix of duple and triple time evokes the A flat Waltz, opus 42, and a gentler, less animated syncopation characterizes the central più lento, a pensive and rhapsodic interlude after so much scintillating light and shade. The coda confirms the Scherzo’s overall high spirits and the final ‘flutter of silvery scale’ is a far cry from the grimly determined conclusion to the earlier Scherzos.

from notes by Bryce Morrison © 2004

C’est lorsque Chopin dévoile une humeur des plus heureuses, des plus ouvertement sereines qu’il est pour le pianiste le plus trompeur. Le Quatrième Scherzo, le seul en majeur, fait preuve d’un brio et d’une fantaisie notoirement difficiles à contrôler. Il faut d’ailleurs noter que c’était le préféré de Saint-Saëns (voici, après tout le plus urbain, français et pétillant des quatre). Lui et Pierné exploitèrent par la suite ses effets époustouflants et espiègles dans leurs concertos pour piano en sol mineur et ut mineur. Un mélange ultérieur de mesures à deux et trois temps évoque la Valse en la bémol majeur opus 42 tandis que des syncopes plus douces, moins animées caractérisent le più lento central, un interlude pensif et rapsodique après tant de lumière et d’ombre scintillants. La coda confirme l’esprit généralement enjoué du Scherzo et le finale faisant « virevolter une gamme argentée » est bien loin de la conclusion résolument sévère des scherzos antérieurs.

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

Wenn Chopin sich nach außen heiter und fröhlich zeigt, dann ist er für den Pianisten am verräterischsten. Das Vierte Scherzo steht als einziges in Dur und es ist offenkundig schwer, die lebendige Brillanz und Launenhaftigkeit unter Kontrolle zu halten. Interessanterweise mochte Saint-Saëns dieses Scherzo besonders (es ist natürlich auch das mondänste, gallischste und schillerndste der vier) und sowohl er als auch Pierné griffen es bei der Arbeit an ihren g-Moll und c-Moll Klavierkonzerten auf, um ähnliche glitzernde und koboldhafte Effekte zu erzielen. Etwas später wird durch eine Mischung aus Zweier- und Dreiertakt der As-Dur Walzer op. 42 evoziert und eine ruhigere, weniger lebhafte Synkopierung charakterisiert das zentrale Più lento, ein nachdenkliches und rhapsodisches Zwischenspiel, das nach dem funkelnden Spiel mit Licht und Schatten erklingt. Die Coda ist eine Bestätigung der größtenteils hochgemuten Stimmung und die „wirbelnde Bewegung der silbrigen Tonleiter“ am Ende ist von den grimmig entschlossenen Schlusspassagen der früheren Scherzi weit entfernt.

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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