Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos 1-4 & Paganini Rhapsody
Rachmaninoff’s four piano concertos are among the most technically demanding ever written, but Stephen Hough attacks them with a fluency and vigor which fully liberates their inventiveness and excitement. Piano Concerto No. 1 erupts in a volley of cascading chord-work, while the finale of No. 3 crackles with a unrepressed, visceral wildness. But Hough has much more than fireworks to offer. The beautiful slow movement of Piano Concerto No. 2 has all the easeful poetry one could wish for, while the more enigmatic tone of No. 4’s Largo is beautifully drawn out. The inclusion of Hough’s glinting, mercurial reading of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is a major bonus. Throughout, conductor Andrew Litton draws playing of great character and incisiveness from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra with results that are consistently thrilling.