Warwick Thompson
April 2018

On the whole, Stephen Hough takes a more restrained approach than Seong-Jin Cho. There’s far less rubato, fewer extremes in the grading of dynamics, and his Yamaha CFX has a brighter tone than Cho’s soft-edged Steinway. His scale passages are more individuated too: he’s Apollo to Cho’s Dionysus, if you like. Sometimes one pianist pedals more heavily than the other, and sometimes vice versa, but Hough’s choices of tempi, on the whole, are brisker than Cho’s and there’s not a hint of wallowing. (Not that I would call Cho’s approach ‘wallowing’ either: ‘excitable’ might be a better term.) Hough himself is an exhibited painter, and his approach to Images resembles that of a visual academic, concerned to explore intellectual nuances rather than sybaritic pleasures or aural indulgences.