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CD reviews: Hough brings magic touch to Chopin masterpieces.

Byline: Reviewed by Christopher Morley

Chopin: Four Ballades & Four Scherzos - Stephen Hough (Hyperion CDA67456)For all his thoughtful, refined technique, Stephen Hough also has the gift of penetrating effortlessly into the nature of the music under performance; these were some of the qualities which led to his Hyperion recording of all five Saint-Saen piano concertos with the CBSO under Sakari Oramo winning the Gramophone's Record of the Year award not so long ago.

Now for the same label Hough turns his attention to eight solo masterpieces by Chopin, interleaving the Ballades and Scherzos into roughly contemporaneous pairings.

So many Hough trademarks inform intelligent and persuasive readings of these inspiringly heroic pieces. The G minor Ballade shows his wonderful colouring of voices and strong but lyrical chording. The A minor Ballade is dramatically characterised, with equal characterisation in the B-flat minor Scherzo crowned by goblin sprightliness at the conclusion.

Purposeful articulation, tones and dynamics scrupulously marshalled, are features of the A-flat Ballade, with delicate pedalling and intimate half-tones brought to the last Ballade in the set, the F major.

This is a lovely release, and Bryce Morrison's notes in an attractive insert-booklet bring added value to the listening experience. HHHHH

Reviewed by Christopher Morley

To buy this CD for pounds 12.99, inc p&p, call our Music Line on 01634 832 789
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 15, 2004
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