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Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos, Paganini Rhapsody
     

Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos, Paganini Rhapsody

5.0 1
by Stephen Hough
 
Piano connoisseurs prize Stephen Hough especially for his thoughtful, elegant recordings of 19th-century rarities, such as his award-winning set of the Saint-Saëns piano concertos. He doesn't shy away from warhorses, though, as this set of the complete Rachmaninoff concertos abundantly confirms. Indeed, he invests these tried-and-true

Overview

Piano connoisseurs prize Stephen Hough especially for his thoughtful, elegant recordings of 19th-century rarities, such as his award-winning set of the Saint-Saëns piano concertos. He doesn't shy away from warhorses, though, as this set of the complete Rachmaninoff concertos abundantly confirms. Indeed, he invests these tried-and-true favorites with the same spirit of adventure and fresh discovery that he brings to obscure repertoire. Recorded live in Dallas in early 2004, Hough's performances feature many a bracing tempo, but the rapid speeds are invariably balanced by supple and stylish rubato (rhythmic flexibility) and met with considerable technical legerdemain -- these are some of the most finger-twisting works in the repertoire, after all, and Hough rises to their challenges with seeming ease. The First and Fourth Concertos fill the first disc, along with the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and the first thing you'll notice at the opening is the abundance of portamentos (pitch slides) in the violins. It's a wonder in this age of performance "authenticity" that this effect is so often disregarded (what could be more authentic in Rachmaninoff?), and they make the First Concerto, possibly the least well known of the four, come alive. Similarly convincing is the rhythmic stretching and pulling, which Hough indulges in frequently but always with taste. The second disc includes the more popular Second and Third Concertos. Hough's blazing rendition of the latter may outpace most rivals, yet it never feels rushed. The vivacissimo marking at the "big tune" in the final bars has rarely been taken at face value, as Hough points out in the booklet notes, but he pulls it off, the music cresting over ever-higher phrases like tidal waves on fast-forward. The effect is breathtaking, and judging by the Dallas audience's passionately enthusiastic response, they thought so, too.

Editorial Reviews

Gramophone - Jeremy Nicholas
Does Anticipation match Realisation in these five much-recorded confections? The answer is 'yes' on almost every level.... It is quite an achievement when each of Hough's five performances here rival the greatest versions recorded individually by other pianists.... Overall, though, only Earl Wild (1965) and, before that, Rachmaninov himself truly convey the composer's intentions with such miraculous fluency, passion and stylistic integrity.
Classic FM Magazine - Emma Baker
[November 2004 Disc of the Month] Hough and Litton have cleaned half a century of Hollywood patina off these works to show them how Rachmaninov surely intended: fresh, ardent and passionate, full of a youthful, heart-on-sleeve innocence.... Hough's technique is breathtaking: he can play with tremendous power but still finds a way to phrase subtly even the most gargantuan passages.... Outstanding performances.
The New Yorker - Alex Ross
These are live recordings, and they crackle with life. Hough, a pianist of keen intelligence, is alert to every emotional turn in the music without ever falling into the trap of Romantic cliché; he lets Rachmaninoff’s great melodies bend and sway, but not in the expected places.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/12/2004
Label:
Hyperion Uk
UPC:
0034571175010
catalogNumber:
67501/2
Rank:
4543

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1
  2. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40
  3. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Introduction and 24 Variations), in A minor for piano & orchestra, Op. 43
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
  5. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

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Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos, Paganini Rhapsody 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago