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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No 2 & 3 / Hough, Litton, Et Al


Release Date: 10/09/2007 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67649   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Stephen Hough
Conductor:  Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Stephen Hough's definitive performances of Rachmaninov's piano concertos were recorded live in Dallas in 2004. Originally issued as a 2-CD set, the two most popular concertos, Nos. 2 and 3, are available on a single disc. The original release met with astonishing critical acclaim. 'Hough. Litton. Rachmaninov concertos. Hyperion. Already a mouth-watering prospect, is it not? So, like the old Fry's Five Boys chocolate advert, does Anticipation match Realization in these five much recorded confections? The answer is 'yes' on almost every level' (Gramophone) Stephen Hough's definitive performances of Rachmaninov's piano concertos were recorded live in Dallas in 2004. Originally issued as a 2-CD set, the two most popular concertos, Nos. 2 and 3, are available on a single disc. The original release met with astonishing critical acclaim. 'Hough. Litton. Rachmaninov concertos. Hyperion. Already a mouth-watering prospect, is it not? So, like the old Fry's Five Boys chocolate advert, does Anticipation match Realization in these five much recorded confections? The answer is 'yes' on almost every level' (Gramophone) Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Piano no 2 in C minor, Op. 18 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Stephen Hough (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1900 - 1901). 
2. Concerto for Piano no 3 in D minor, Op. 30 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Stephen Hough (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909; Russia 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Ardent Rachmaninoff December 16, 2011 By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews "Critics tend to compare pianists with legendary elders (Volodos is the new Horowitz, Brendel was the new Schnabel, etc.). Stephen Hough reminds me not so much of any pianist as a conductor: Arturo Toscanini. No, Hough is not temperamental like the Italian Maestro. But his approach to music interpretation seems to be to discard traditional tempo changes, rubatos, and the like (which Toscanini derided as "the last bad performance") study the score as if it were being played for the first time, and make any interpretive decisions on that basis.

Thus it's no surprise to me that Hough's recordings of Rachmaninoff's Second and Third Piano Concertos have offended some, to judge by other reviews of this disc as well as the complete set. For those accustomed to hearing the Second Concerto played in a sentimental, brooding, Hollywood manner, Hough's vigorous, ardent approach will come as a shock. I find it bracing. And having studied the score, I find nothing that Hough does violates the spirit or letter of the music. Take, for example, the first movement's opening chords, which most pianists offer at a slow tempo, but which Hough plays strictly in time with the main body of the movement. By doing so, he brings the structure of the movement into bold relief - and the main theme is all the more emotional because the opening chords don't wring all the emotion from the music in the first few seconds. Whether Rachmaninoff himself played it that way in his two recordings is irrelevant. The composer himself was quick to praise interpretations of his works which differed from his own, but were convincing on their own terms (as in Horowitz's performance of the Third Concerto).

The above also applies to Hough's recording of the Third Concerto. The opening movement is given at a brisk, restless tempo, heading straight for the cadenza (Hough plays the shorter one favored by the composer). The second movement does not deflate into narcolepsy, and the finale is thrilling - quicksilver without descending into banging.

Both Concertos are played without cuts - which has thankfully become standard these days. Under Hough's very able hands these concertos emerge as fresh and vital - rather than something for the blue-hairs to daydream to.

The performances on this disc stem from live recordings. The audience is quiet during the performances, but the applause is retained at the conclusion of each piece. The sound is clean and focused without being overly immediate.
"
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