Stephen Hough's Dream Album (CD)

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Stephen Hough

Few pianists today could devise such a recital - their own transcriptions and variations on well-known classics included as a matter of course - and seldom can these graceful, delightful pieces have had such consummate musicianship lavished on them. Such stuff as dreams are made on...

Pianist Stephen Hough's Dream Album, which casts him in the role of performer, composer, and transcriber, is the seventh in a series of "Album" releases from Mr. Hough that began with The Piano Album in 1993 and continued most recently with the French Album in 2012. Like all of his Albums, Mr. Hough's Dream Album juxtaposes works by different composers, in this case 27 short pieces-mostly less than five minutes apiece-by over a dozen composers, including Liszt, Dvorák, and Sibelius. As if from a dream, this collection is a free association of musical thoughts that bear personal meaning for Mr. Hough-from favorite encores, to pieces from his childhood, to works written for friends.

Mr. Hough's accompanying notes offer a glimpse at what makes each piece special to him. For instance:

In the Steppes (No. 2 of Memories of Childhood, Op. 11) by Julius Isserlis (1888-1968): "It was a scholarship named after this Russian pianist which enabled me to study in New York. Years later I met his cellist grandson..."

By the sleepy lagoon by Eric Coates (1886-1957): "Desert Island Discs, the beloved BBC radio programme, has used this wistful piece as its theme music for over seventy-five years now. It lies deep in my subconscious memory and I've always wanted to play it on the piano."

Jeunes filles au jardin (No. 5 of Scènes d'enfants) by Mompou: A "slender masterpiece [that] takes me back to my own childhood. The first record we bought when I started to learn the piano was a mixed album, much like this one, on which Clive Lythgoe played this little gem. Thus I knew Mompou before I knew Mozart, and this piece has been my companion as an encore for over forty years of concerts now. I've never found another which could surpass its gentle charm. It was one of the first pieces I learned with my infant fingers and I hope it will be the last piece I play when my own career (was it all a dream?) finally comes to a close."

While the album's repertoire dates mostly from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Mr. Hough himself is the most represented composer on the recording. Two of his featured works are waltzes-the first a metric transformation of Johann Strauss I's Radetzky March and the second based on a theme of Paganini, made "heavy with tobacco smoke and the haze of a nightclub." The other compositions were inspired by people in his life. The album also includes his transcriptions and arrangements of traditional music and works ranging from Dvorák to lesser-known composers Henry Love (1895-1976), Ludwig Minkus (1826-1917), Vasily Solovyov-Sedoy (1907-1979), and Arthur F. Tate (1870-1950).

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  1. Hough: Radetzky Waltz
  2. Love / Hough: Das Alte Lied
  3. Isserlis: In The Steppes, Op. 11 / 2
  4. Minkus / Hough: Don Quixote - Kitri's Variation
  5. Minkus / Hough: Don Quixote - Dulcinea's Variation
  6. Solovyov-Sedoy / Hough: Moscow Nights
  7. Liszt: Harmonies Du Soir, S 139 / 11
  8. Liszt: Étude In F Minor, S 139 / 10
  9. Albéniz / Hough: Capricho Catalan, Op. 165 / 5
  10. Ponce: Intermezzo #1
  11. Dohnányi: Rhapsody In C, Op. 11 / 3
  12. Sibelius: Kuusi, Op. 75 / 5
  13. Seymer: Solöga, Op. 11 / 3
  14. Chaminade: Pas Des Écharpes
  15. Hough: Niccolo's Waltz
  16. Hough: Osmanthus Romp
  17. Hough: Osmanthus Reverie
  18. Coates: By The Sleepy Lagoon
  19. Tate / Hough: Somewhere A Voice Is Calling
  20. Anon / Hough: Matilda's Rhumba
  21. Hough: Iver-Song, 'Lullaby'
  22. Dvorák: Humoresque In G Flat, Op. 101 / 7
  23. Dvorák / Hough: Songs My Mother Taught Me, Op. 55 / 4
  24. Elgar: Salut D'Amour, Op. 12
  25. Anon / Hough: Blow The Wind Southerly
  26. Hough: Lullaby
  27. Mompou: Scènes D'Enfants - #5 Jeunes Filles Au Jardin