CD Spotlight: Stephen Hough: The Erato Years 1987-1998
Pianist Stephen Hough was just twenty-two when he won the Naumberg Competition. That victory would set in motion a career that, to date, includes over 60 CDs, 4 books, first place in a poetry competition, a scintillating blog (sadly discontinued), a MacArthur Fellowship, and a solo painting exhibition…not to mention his international musical career, playing with the world’s best orchestras.
Hough is no dilettante. He is a polymath who speaks eloquently on topics ranging from literature, religion, philosophy, and history to, of course, music. His wit is sharp and his playing deep and expressive. Hough's first 9 releases mirror those multiple interests, with works ranging from the massive Brahms concertos to charming salon pieces that Hough calls “chocolate truffles.” In between, he breezes through Mozart, tackles Liszt’s and Schumann’s most heady works, and Britten’s sometimes tricky keyboard compositions. In short, Stephen Hough does it all, and he does it all beautifully.
Hough’s first releases went out of print when the record company folded, but now you can hear them again with this new 9 CD box set, Stephen Hough: The Erato Years 1987-1998. It’s well-priced, and a wonderful overview of this brilliant pianist’s first decade. And how can you say no to a guy who includes “Stairway to Heaven” in his desert island disc list?