Chopin: Late Masterpieces
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Stephen Hough joins the celebrations for Chopin s 200th birthday with a disc containing much of the composer s most extraordinary music, written in the last years of his life where the expressive possibilities of his art were constantly unfolding and he imbued his favored forms with previously unknown levels of complexity and emotional depth. This disc includes the intoxicatingly ornamented Berceuse Op 57 and the sublime Barcarolle in F sharp major as well as the Polonaise-Fantasy in A flat major and the towering Piano Sonata No 3 in B minor. Also included are two late Nocturnes that demonstrate how Chopin s art had evolved since he first composed in that genre in his youth. The program is completed by a selection of Mazurkas, each a tiny jewel, containing no less mastery than their larger counterparts, and providing moving sonic evidence of the contemplative profundity of Chopin s late style. Stephen Hough s extraordinarily sensitive playing is informed by his limitless technique and engaging musical imagination.
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Contained in the disc are the "Barcarolle" in F sharp minor; 3 Mazurkas in minor keys opus 63 and 67 and 68 (I adore them. They are very sad "little dances" that are played most beautifully by Hough); 2 Nocturnes, Opus 62; the "Polonaise-Fantasy" in A flat major that I have acquired more appreciation for mainly because of Stephen's brilliant playing; "Piano sonata #3 in B minor--my admiration of this work has increased too mainly thanks to Mr. Hough's outstanding playing of it on this recording--so full of technical virtuosity while playing with the most beautiful tone imaginable. All that I can say is BRAVO; and also contained therein is the Berceuse in D flat major.
As I stated above, Stephen must be in or fast approaching his so-called "mature" period. Not because of his age but, to me, because of the beauty of his playing as sublimely reflected in this disc.
Do read the notes to the disc there is a wonderful story written by Stephen about a "Bowler" hat and its "tie-in" with Chopin.
As Stephen Hough goes, he is his usual brilliant, artistic self. I'd say he's like a well-oiled machine, except that wouldn't do justice to his very human rendering of even demanding or hum-drum works.
So buy this album for Hough: the Chopin will grow on you.