- Piano Sonata No. 2 ('Notturno Luminoso')
This recital by British pianist Stephen Hough is precisely what the title suggests: a collection of "Night Music" for piano. The program features some very familiar pieces including the most famous night piece of all (even if it wasn't originally intended as such), Beethoven's "Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27/2 (Moonlight)." Robert Schumann's "Carnaval, Op. 9," refers to a night activity, a masked ball, rather than being an evocation of the night itself, and Hough's reading of these portraits are distinctly on the reflective side. In fact, taken individually, Hough's performances may be too restrained for some listeners, but the cumulative effect has the kind of spell he intends. Another unusual feature of the album is the presence of a work by Hough himself, the "Piano Sonata No. 2 (notturno luminoso)." In spite of what the subtitle might suggest, this is not a neo-Romantic nocturne but a nervous, somewhat jangling evocation of a city that never sleeps. It pulls off the trick so few contemporary compositions manage, that of holding its own in the company of Beethoven and Schumann, and it's a nice touch in a recital that updates the virtuoso concert of the 19th century in some fresh ways. Hyperion's engineering, accomplished at the Wyastone Estate concert hall, is very much attuned to Hough's artistic aims.