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Exquis! Stephen Hough presents an enchanting programme of French music, played with the filigree perfection and total command of the music’s expressive world that make him one of the most admired pianists of today. In typical Houghian style this recital is full of surprises and lesser-known gems from the repertoire, as well as works by the masters Fauré, Ravel, Debussy and Poulenc. A particular delight is Hough’s own arrangement of the Massenet song Crépuscule, a ravishing exercise in creative yet faithful transcription. This release is both a tribute to the lyric genius which flowered in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France, and a glimpse into the musical mind of a great pianist.
Bach/Cortot/Hough: Toccata & Fugue In D Minor, BWV 565
Bach/Cortot: Keyboard Concerto #5 In F Minor, BWV 1056 - 2. Arioso
Fauré: Nocturne #6 In D Flat, Op. 63
Fauré: 8 Pièces Brèves, Op. 84 - #5 Improvisation In C Sharp Minor
Fauré: Impromptu #5 In F Sharp Minor, Op. 102
Fauré: Barcarolle #5 In F Sharp Minor, Op. 66
Ravel: Miroirs - 4. Alborada Del Gracioso
Massenet/Hough: Poëme Pastoral - 5. Crépuscule
Chabrier: 10 Pièces Pittoresques - #02 Mélancolie
Poulenc: Nocturne #4 In C Minor, "Bal Fantôme"
Poulenc: Improvisation #8 In A Minor
Chaminade: Études De Concert, Op. 35 - #2 Automne
Alkan: 25 Préludes, Op. 31 - #08 La Chanson De La Folle Au Bord De La Mer
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque - 3. Clair De Lune
Delibes/Hough: Sylvia - Pizzicati
Liszt: Réminiscences De La Juive, S 409a, "Fantaisie Brillante Sur Des Motifs De L'Opéra De Halévy"
31st August 2012
“His latest album recital is among the most enjoyable. “A sort of musical dessert trolley,” he calls it — a trolley where you want to eat everything in sight...The Fauré selections best display Hough’s connoisseur’s touch...The lighter French spirit surfaces in Hough’s own arrangements of Délibes and Massenet, delivered with delicious wit and grace.”
“it's a superlative performance [of Alborada del gracioso] by any standards, including repeated notes that turn me green with envy.”
2nd September 2012
“personal touches make Hough the artist he is, but I can imagine some musical Francophiles balking at his free interpretation of Fauré’s D flat Nocturne, and more so at his eccentric Debussy (Clair de lune). Yet there are compensations aplenty: Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso and Fauré’s F sharp minor Impromptu are glitteringly played.”
Awards Issue 2012
“a substantial feast of of masterly pianism...Hough can be too coolly objective at times but in this repertoire, perhaps paradoxically, the expressive simplicity of his playing can make your eyes burn. In Clair de lune and Chaminade's once ubiquitous Automne, now rarely heard, Hough conjures up a heart-catching melancholy that put me in mind of Cherkassy. I can't offer higher praise.”
The Arts Desk
6th October 2012
“[Hough’s] one of those keyboard polymaths who’s at home in whatever music he chooses to play, invariably casting new light on the familiar in the process. And the better-known items here do delight...But you’ll want this for the rarities...playing and recording are beyond reproach.”
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