Hough's Tchaikovsky

Critical acclaim for Hough's Tchaikovsky

11 April 2010

Stephen Hough’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s complete works for piano and orchestra with Osmö Vänskä and his Minnesota Orchestra on Hyperion continues to receive rave reviews from numerous critics, as well as being nominated as Editors Choice in Classic FM Magazine's June edition. Proving its popularity with music lovers across the UK, it has also cemented its place high within the UK classical charts, positioned at number three for three weeks, the disc has recently been promoted up to second spot. Below are some of the recent quotes from the critics:

“These, you can hear, are not performances made with the safety net of a studio but ones with a sense of occasion, purpose and risk-taking. Osmo Vänskä, particularly attuned to the sensibilities of Russian music, is an ideal partner for his inspired soloist. The old warhorse comes up fresh as paint. The electrifying pace Hough injects into the codas of No 1 and the Concert Fantasia are suitably exciting, though these are nothing compared to the tumultuous final pages of No 2 (a tremendous performance). The audience whoops in amazement. This is a great recording – no doubt about that – and one which, if there is any justice, will garner any number of awards.” (Gramophone Magazine)

“Stephen’s daredevil technique has to be heard to be believed – but its impact is even greater because Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra have collaborated in a rethinking of these works that lends (for example) a new foreboding to the warhorse First Concerto.” (Daily Telegraph)

“The freshness and panache of his previous Rachmaninov set, also for Hyperion, swept aside competitors. His Tchaikovsky might well do the same. Every concerto features incisive conducting from Osmö Vänskä and the chiselled splendour of his Minnesota Orchestra. With Hough at the keys, the First Concerto becomes no warhorse taken for a dutiful trot but a freshly imagined masterpiece bouncing with surprises and invention.” (The Times)

“Stephen Hough's account of the First Piano Concerto, as dazzling it may be, is only one of the highlights in this exceptional collection of all of Tchaikovsky's works for piano and orchestra. His ability to strip off the layers of varnish from a work so that it recaptures much of its startling freshness is remarkable, and his combination of bravura swagger and the most fastidious care with line and texture is utterly convincing. Five stars” (The Guardian)

“Anyone who heard Stephen Hough's barnstorming performances of all the Tchaikovsky piano concertos at last year's Proms will want to own these CDs, which mark Hyperion's 50th recording in their Romantic concerto series. Captured live, they recreate all the raw excitement of those memorable evenings at the Albert Hall. Osmo Vänskä's suave direction of the Minnesota players allows Hough's brilliance to shine through, and, as at the Proms, we have a chance to hear Hough's own intelligent reworking of the second movement of the second concerto.” (The Observer)

“Hough and Osmo Vänskä offer what amounts to a master class on rehabilitating a warhorse. The warhorse, of course, is Tchaikovsky's B-flat Minor Concerto, the most incessantly repeated work of its ilk. Though playing the same notes in the same order as everyone else, Hough and Vänskä manage to remap the piece. The pianist, startlingly lucid even at breakneck speeds, delivers virtuosity without ego; the conductor sustains tension where most performances go slack.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)