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My Favorite Things - Virtuoso encores and transcriptions for solo piano
Edward MACDOWELL (1860-1908)
1. Hexentanz [02:28]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
2. The Maiden's Wish, Op. 74/1 [03:57]
song arranged for piano by Franz Liszt
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953)
3. Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, Op. 3/2 [02:03]
4. The Fuchsia Tree, Op. 25/2 [01:26]
Ernö von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960)
5. Capriccio in F Minor [02:23]
Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
6. Minuet in G [04:27]
7. Nocturne [04:11]
Paul de SCHÖLZER (c. 1841-1898)
8. Etude in A Flat Major [03:02]
Ossip GABRILOVICH (1878-1936)
9. Mélodie in E [04:14]
10. Caprice-Burlesque [04:22]
Richard RODGERS (1902-1979)
11. My Favorite Things [02:35]
arranged for piano by Stephen Hough
Amy WOODFORDE-FINDEN (1860-1919)
12. Kashmiri Love Song [03:33]
arranged for piano by Stephen Hough
Ignacy FRIEDMAN (1882-1948)
13. Musical Box [02:35]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
14. The Swan [02:27]
arranged for piano by Leopold Godowski
Moriz ROSENTHAL (1862-1946)
15. Papillons [02:29]
Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938)
16. The Gardens of Buitenzorg [03:29]
Mischa LEVITZKI (1898-1941)
17. Waltz [01:48]
Selim PALMGREN (1878-1951)
18. En Route, Op. 9 [01:06]
Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925)
19. Siciliano [02:42]
20. Caprice Espagnol [05:42]
Stephen Hough (piano)
rec. 1987, Theresa L. Kaufman Concert Hall, 92nd Street, New York City, USA. DDD
NIMBUS NI 2540 [63:07]

Experience Classicsonline



I knew that pianist Stephen Hough had released a new recording. When I received this disc I was disappointed that it was not the disc I hoped it would be. I was anticipating 'Stephen Hough in Recital' on Hyperion and the disc that I got was 'My Favourite Things' a reissue of an original 1988 release that Hough recorded in 1987. More to the point would I be disappointed when I heard it?

For this Nimbus disc Hough has chosen a section of solo piano pieces mainly from the late-Romantic era. In the booklet Bryce Morrison points out that the majority of scores were written by pianists who composed, rather than by composers that played the piano. There seems little point in critically appraising each one of the twenty pieces which are primarily short trifles and lollipops ranging from just over a minute in length to just under six minutes. 
The opening track is MacDowell's Hexentanz the second of his two Fantasiestücke, Op. 17. Hearing this piece makes it hard to believe just how quick Hough's fingers can move across the keyboard. Chopin's The Maiden's Wish from his opus. 74 set of Polish Songs is best known in this transcription by Franz Liszt. The piece, a favourite of Paderewski, Rachmaninov and Cortot, is music of carefree abandon with a bittersweet colouration. I enjoyed Roger Quilter's contrasting transcriptions especially the heavy yearning quality of Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, Op. 3/2 and the light and tender strains of The Fuchsia Tree, Op. 25/2.

The Capriccio in F Minor by Ernö von Dohnányi is a madcap gallop and I found Paderewski's Nocturne evocative of moonlight shimmering on the surface of a Venetian lagoon. The quietly strong and passionate strains of Ossip Gabrilovich's Mélodie in E were a delight as was Hough's clever arrangement of Richard Rodger's appealing showpiece My Favorite Things. There is a moving tenderness to Hough's arrangement of the Kashmiri Love Song by Amy Woodforde-Finden and I found Ignacy Friedman's Musical Box reminiscent of the warmth and comfort of a child's nursery.

Leopold Godowski's arrangement of the famous piece The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns feels just a touch too busy and inappropriately over-elaborate for this beautiful and memorable tune. Godowsky's own piece The Gardens of Buitenzorg contains a moving tenderness clearly suggestive of a torrid love affair. I was entertained by Selim Palmgren's En Route, Op. 9 a quick-fire piece that reminded me of Chopin's Minute Waltz. This fiendishly difficult score seemed to catch the soloist out a couple of times.  
The concise booklet notes reused from 1988 do a basic job but the annotation in general is rather lacking in detail such as compositional dates and additional information about each piece. There is an abundance of highly sparkling playing from Stephen Hough as one might expect from such a great artist. Sadly the scope of these showpieces do not allow Hough to demonstrate his full armoury. In a highly competitive market I found the presentation rather tired.

Am I disappointed now that I've heard the disc? Well yes and no. I enjoyed much of what I heard but I doubt the disc will feature often on my disc player.

Michael Cookson 
 


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