A new CD by Stephen Hough receives a positive review by Jed Distler.
It’s rare for a pianist to reveal familiar repertoire in fresh and newly minted ways without being willful, eccentric, or unorthodox. Not Stephen Hough. His expertly curated collection of Grieg Lyric Pieces abounds with individual touches, yet the interpretations couldn’t sound more natural or inevitable.
The pianist plays the Op. 12 No. 1 Arietta faster than usual, allowing the familiar melody to effortlessly float over the bar lines, while the Berceuse lilts with perceptible yet amazingly subtle rubato. Using almost no pedal, Hough strips off a century of sentiment and frilly phrasing from Butterfly (Op. 43 No. 1), and the music really takes off. Note also the Little bird’s precisely calibrated trilled chords.