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Stephen Hough’s Dream Album
Stephen Hough (piano)
rec. 2016, Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, UK
HYPERION CDA68176 [79:52]

I  can do no better than quote Stephen Hough’s words from the CD booklet: “Isn’t this what we do when we listen to any kind of music? We suspend the reality of our ordinary lives, we long for spells to be cast, for phantoms to be grasped, to enter a state of ecstasy”.

This is a CD that it is very easy to like, filled as it is with twenty seven short pieces, some transcribed by the pianist, others in their original state. I settled down to listen, in easy anticipation of a varied box of pianistic delights, and the contents of the box were duly delivered in typically flamboyant yet considered style.

One piece that made me sit up and take notice was the transcription by Hough of ‘Moscow Nights’, a Soviet pop song, whose melody is known the world over. In his brief description of the work, he simply says that he has transcribed it with “reminiscences of an older Imperial Russian composer”. Yes, indeed; he begins (and ends) the piece with the famous opening chords of a certain Second Piano concerto in C minor, before smoothly transitioning into the Moscow Nights tune.

I particularly enjoyed Hough’s poetic transcription of Capricho Catalán by Albéniz, he has transcribed Segovia’s own gentle guitar transcription to devise his own version.

Sibelius:piano music is a closed book to me, and so I was intrigued by the short ‘Kuusi:(The Spruce); it is lovely, but in all honesty I would never have recognised its composer.

Dohnányi’s famous ‘Rhapsody in C:makes a very welcome appearance; the pianist says that its luxuriant second subject raised youthful hairs on his neck when he first heard it. That I can easily understand, for it is a glorious tune.

Hough isn’t afraid to dig into deeply unfashionable salon pieces from Edwardian days, and so we have his slightly overheated version of the delightful ‘Somewhere a voice is calling:by Arthur F.Tate. I recognised the tune immediately, without knowing its origins. It is a delight to listen to.

The pianist himself appears as composer for a couple of lullabys and a couple of pieces dedicated to his partner. He is also responsible for a witty rumba based on Waltzing Matilda.

And so on. This is a lovely CD full of dreams. It ends in exquisite fashion with ‘Jeunes filles au jardin:by Mompou. Hough tells us that it was one of the very first pieces he listened to when first learning to play the piano, and he has used its gentle beauty as an encore piece ever since.

I really enjoyed this CD; it is beautifully recorded and presented and has given me hours of relaxed enjoyment and I hope that it sells well.

Jim Westhead
Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849) (arr. Hough) Radetzky Waltz [5’20]
Henry LOVE (1895-1976) (trans. Hough) Das alte Lied [2:26]
Julius ISSERLIS (1888-1968) In the Steppes Op.11 No.2 [1:17]
Ludwig MINKUS (1826-1917) (trans. Hough) Kitri:s Variation [1:18], Dulcinea’s Variation [2:06]
Vasily SOLOVYOV-SEDOY (1907-1979) (trans.Hough) Moscow Nights [2:10]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Harmonies du Soir, [9:01], S139 No.11, Etude in F minor [5:01], S139 No.12
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909) (arr. Hough) Capricho Catalán Op.165 No.5 [3:40]
Manuel PONCE (1882-1948) Intermezzo No.1 [2:19]
Ernő DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Rhapsody in C Op.11 No.3 [4:47]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Kuusi Op.75 No.5 [2:40]
William SEYMER (1890-1964) Sologa Op.11 No.3 [3:00]
Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944) Pas des écharpes [4:52]
Stephen HOUGH (b. 1961) (after Paganini) Niccolo’s Waltz [2:22]
Stephen HOUGH (b.1961) Osmanthus Romp, [1:05], Osmanthus Rêverie [2:22], Iver Song [1:36], Lullaby [1:21]
Eric COATES (1886-1957) By the sleepy lagoon [3:19]
Arthur F. TATE (1870-1950) ( trans. Hough) Somewhere a voice is calling [2:36]
TRAD (arr. Hough) Matilda:s Rhumba [2:13]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Humoresque in G flat Op.101 No.7 [3:07]; Songs my mother taught me Op.55 No.4 (trans. Hough) [2:01]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Salut d’amour Op.12 [2:54]
TRAD (arr. Hough) Blow the wind southerly [2:17]
Frederico MOMPOU (1893-1987) Jeunes filles au jardin [2:42]


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