Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is something of a mixed bag, though the bag?s velvet and its contents are, mostly, superb. Take the
Valse de Faust
. The usual thumping fore and aft is, here, aerated and shimmering, set off with sufficient rhythmic point to suggest the crowds of the
without devolving into a rustic hoedown?a mere backdrop for the giddily flirtatious scene as Faust attempts to take Marguerite?s arm, sending them both into palpitations of gossamer trills and runs. One may miss the pounding satisfaction on first hearing, but the scene painting and characterization
are to live with. The lovers? farewell from Gounod?s
Roméo et Juliette
, already exquisitely Lisztianized, is puffed and delicately Houghed into the fluffiest of soufflés.
The water pieces of the
??Au Lac de Wallenstadt,? ?Au bord d?une source??purl and splash with a blithe scintillance leaving most other pianists at the town pump. ?Chapelle de Guillaume Tell? manages grandeur and restraint with a mystic touch. And so on. Thus one is taken aback to find ?Orage? full of gorgeous sound but little fury?a pastel tempest nonchalantly recounted with none of the menace one hears in, say, Barenboim?s 1986 performance (
, nla Deutsche Grammophon 415 670)?perhaps the most apt comparison with the present album and a classic performance which should be reissued entire forthwith. Granted, most players take the sleepless man of ?Vallée d?Obermann? to heart with a Burton-as-Hamlet mania ending by tearing a passion to tatters, but this seems to be what Liszt had in mind and I find no revelation or musical gain by playing him as a rural neurasthenic, as Hough does. Soliloquizing over the dregs of a bad night usually mounts to an ecstatic affirmation, softened here to a wan sunrise greeting??Have a nice day!??that no lavishing of tonal finesse can redeem. Of what was Hough thinking? But he has ideas, and often they transport us to a demesne few others are equipped to enter.
Spaciously framed, sound is recessed only enough to allow Hough?s colors to flare into radiance. Tim Parry?s liner notes are lovingly informed. Hear this.
FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
Works on This Recording
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