Guy Rickards
International Piano
March 2014

Hough’s account of the First Concerto is expansive and measured, finding the fire in the stormy opening Maestoso but also the delicacy and quietude in the central Adagio. The final rondo is a model of balance, completing a rather fine interpretation. Perhaps the final peroration is reined in a touch too much but I would not press the point. There have been fleeter versions, but Hough and Wigglesworth make their case for their choice of tempi compellingly.

There’s a broadness about the first movement of the Second, too, which in the event works very beautifully, especially in the exchanges between piano and horn and throughout brings out the romantic ardour. Some may feel it takes getting used to, much as I found with Nelson Freire’s recent recording, also coupled with No 1 (with Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra). Hough and Wigglesworth are the safer recommendation and their way with the remaining movements is nothing but assured and convincing. The ‘tiny, tiny wisp of a scherzo’ is executed with lightness and panache, the dialogue with cellist Marcus Pouget in the Andante is a delight and the Allegretto grazioso likewise.

Hyperion has not been over-generous with the playing time. The two works will not fit on one disc, of course, but both last less than fifty minutes. It’s a shame not to have had either some Brahms piano works played by Hough, or some orchestral works: the St Antony Chorale Variations and the two overtures would have done.