Stephen Hough’s latest solo album takes us on a colourful tour of Spain and all things Spanish: a kaleidoscope of slants and angles on the soul and character of a once exotic and remote country.
Antonio Soler (whose innumerable sonatas were considered sufficiently outlandish to earn him the sobriquet ‘the devil dressed as a monk’) sets the scene for a sequence of impressionist wonders by Granados, Albéniz and Mompou (a disc of whose pianistic micro-masterpieces—CDA66963—won for Stephen Hough the 1998 Gramophone Instrumental Award), and Federico Longas’s insinuatingly virtuosic charmer Aragón.
Hough then allows outsiders a view into the magical kingdom. Debussy and Ravel peer longingly over the Pyrenees, while Godowsky, Scharwenka, Niemann and finally Hough himself are all in turn unable to resist this richest of cultural experiences.
Stephen Hough’s esoteric recital CDs rapidly acquire something of a cult status. Classic CD wrote of Stephen Hough’s New Piano Album CDA67043: ‘This is a terrific disc. A master pianist reminds us that the piano can delight, surprise and enchant’; while Classic FM Magazine welcomed Stephen Hough’s English Album CDA67267 saying: ‘Hough’s pianism is a constant source of wonder—every chord and phrase perfectly judged’.