Unusually, the CD is completed with Liszt’s complete transcriptions from Gounod operas.The three pieces include one virtuoso warhorse – the Faust waltz – and two reflective and lyrical pieces which are almost completely unknown.
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Each piece has an illustrative title and aims to capture the emotion invoked by a particular scene; this was a revolutionary approach to music in its time and allowed Liszt to create a whole new world where piano texture is used purely to create atmosphere.
Music requiring this degree of pianistic sophistication seems perfectly suited to the skills of Stephen Hough, and so it proves, as he captures to perfection the delicate glitter of Au bord d’une source or the grandeur of Vallée d’Obermann.
Hough's elegance minimises the music's vulgarity, while he is in his element in the dreamy fantasies on themes from Roméo et Juliette and the rare La Reine de Saba' (The Daily Telegraph)'Even were Hough's technique less secure and Hyperion's engineering less realistic, this would be a major addition to the catalogue.
As it stands, this recording of the first book of Années is the top choice' (International Record Review)'Pianist Stephen Hough beautifully captures the requisite sense of Liszt's absorption in his self-created Romantic universe, as well as the heart-tugging emotions of his music …