Gramophone Awards 2002

Record of the Year

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The Romantic Piano Concerto 27 - Saint-Saëns

The Romantic Piano Concerto 27 - Saint-Saëns


Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5

Wedding Cake - Valse-Caprice for piano & strings, Op. 76

Rapsodie d'Auvergne for piano & orchestra Op. 73

Allegro appassionato for piano & orchestra Op. 70

Africa - Fantasie for piano & orchestra Op. 89

“If Saint-Saëns's idiom once answered – and maybe still does – to qualities fundamental to the French musical character, it must be said straight away that Hough sounds the complete insider. He commands the range of the big statements, whatever their character, as well as sparkle and panache, a sense of drama and seemingly inexhaustible stamina; and he can charm. Yet perhaps most delightful is the lightness and clarity of his decorative playing.
It's a bonus for the virtuoso passages not to sound hectic or overblown – for Saint-Saëns, virtuosity always had an expressive potential.
There's an air of manufacture about the writing sometimes, certainly, but as Hough knows, there must be nothing mechanical in its delivery.
Sweeping across the keyboard, dipping and soaring through the teaming notes, he flies like a bird. He manages to convey what makes these pieces tick: fine workmanship, fantasy, colour, and the various ways Saint-Saëns was so good at combining piano and orchestra. The orchestra has plenty to do. These scores are textbooks of lean but firm orchestration from which at least one major French composer learned (Ravel, another eclectic, who must have seen the 'old bear' as a kindred spirit). The days are past when the CBSO under Louis Frémaux was considered Britain's 'French' orchestra, but with Sakari Oramo it does splendidly here, playing alertly with its inspiring soloist as he does with it (another plus). The recording balances are fine, with lovely piano sound and plenty of orchestral detail in natural-sounding perspectives.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Marvellous performances of these delightful and ever inventive works from Stephen Hough, full of joy, vigour and sparkle, with Oramo and the CBSO acompanying spiritedly and with the lightest touch...An easy first choice for this repertoire.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

“With performances as persuasive as these from pianist Stephen Hough, it makes one wonder why these works aren't performed more often. My favourite is probably the fifth concerto, nicknamed the Egyptian, in which the joy that both Hough and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under conductor Sakari Oramo bring to the last movement is quite palpable. A splendid set indeed, including other shorter works such as the Fantasy, Africa, partly written whilst Saint-Saëns was on an Egyptian cruise, recovering from a serious illness.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical

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GGramophone Awards 2008

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GGramophone Awards 2002

Record of the Year

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2001

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

40 Years of the Gramophone Awards

Hyperion - The Romantic Piano Concerto - CDA67331/2

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Other Finalists

Gluck: Italian Arias

Gluck: Italian Arias


Ah! taci barbaro...Come potesti, oh Dio (from La Clemenza di Tito)

Di questa cetra in seno (from Il Parnaso confuso)

Misera, dove son...Ah! non son io (from Ezio)

Ciascun siegua il suo stile...Maggior follia non v'e (from La Semiramide riconosciuta)

Quel chiaro rio (from La Corona)

Berenice, che fai?...Perché, se tanti siete (from Antigono)

Se mai senti spirarti sul volto (from La clemenza di Tito)

Tremo fra dubbi miei (from La Clemenza di Tito)

“on this disc Cecilia Bartoli makes clear that Gluck was a formidable musical dramatist even in his early, pre-'reform' works...This CD, in short, is a tour de force of dramatic singing, in the widest sense of the term: and it is also full of really beautiful sound; rich, warm, out.” Gramophone Magazine, 2001

“Bartoli is in all her considerable glory on this 2001 collection with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin - the arias from La Clemenza di Tito in particular contain some hair-raising feats of vocal athleticism (bare-knuckle coloratura, top Ds and all!) but the simplicity of 'Se mai senti spirarti sul volto' (such a beautiful melody that Gluck recycled it several times!) is equally breath-taking.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Awards 2002

Record of the Year Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - Awards Issue 2001

Decca - 4783389



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