[ Hyperion / CD ]
Release Date: Wednesday 2 May 2018
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Any new recording from Stephen Hough is a keenly awaited musical event. Here his customary 'scintillating technique' and 'imaginative intelligence' (The Guardian) are deployed in the service of an all-Debussy recital which sets the bar high at this, the start of the composer's centenary year.
'Hough begins his disc with the Estampes, a vivid reminder that Debussy loved art as much as music, and Hough similarly paints as well as plays. His 'Pagodes' sets the scene with just the right degree of blurring of the lines, motifs emerging and then receding once more, all combining to ethereal effect. In the closing 'Jardins' his pacing is spot-on' (Gramophone)
'Anticipation ran high for this album. And its beauties are many and varied. Whether it's the gorgeous delicacy with which he orchestrates the different layers of sound in Estampes' 'Pagodes', the louche sinuousness of La plus que lente … or the tenderness of 'The Little Shepherd' in Children's Corner, there's no doubt that Hough is largely in his element here.' (BBC Music Magazine)
'Hough captures every bit of [La plus que lente's] lazy, sensuous languor, just as his account of L'isle joyeuse bristles with superbly controlled energy, while those of the two series of Images draw on a fabulous palette of keyboard colour' (The Guardian)
'Anybody who has caught Hough in a live recital, or heard his scintillating recordings of Saint-Saëns's piano concertos, will know how well the sparkling clarity of French music suits him … the triptych of Estampes sets the tone with clear, atmospheric playing, given an extra warmth in Hyperion's perfectly judged recording … the snowflakes in Children's Corner fall with the softest delicacy. The delight in L'isle joyeuse is less exhilaration than joy at the radiance of a sun-soaked atmosphere. La plus que lente, played with affectionate simplicity, makes a nicely light-hearted bonus' (Financial Times)
'Hough himself is an exhibited painter, and his approach to Images resembles that of a visual academic, concerned to explore intellectual nuances' (Pianist)
Images I L105
Images II L120
Children's Corner L119
La plus que lente L128
L'isle joyeuse L109