The Fantasia in C minor K 475 by Mozart is one of his most amazing piano works. While it is not performed often, it holds a special place in the collection of Mozart’s catalog. The music shifts between gloomy parts and bright parts, with the contrasts playing off of each other with strong effectiveness.
What is unusual in Stephen Hough’s CD is that he has included works by other composers which are either Fantasias on themes from Mozart operas, or compositions based on a Mozart Divertimento. Also included are “Three Mozart Transformations” that were composed by Stephen Hough using Francis Poulenc as a model.
The final piece, the Liszt/Busoni Fantasia on themes from The Marriage of Figaro, is clearly a crowd-pleaser, and Hough gives it a terrific performance guaranteed to bring the house down.
Here are some quotes from the British press:
‘Here’s another winning, imaginatively conceived disc from Britain’s finest pianist …. Prized for his pianism, Hough is also a superb Mozartian. He lends these Fantasias an almost Beethovenian weight and depth of expression … Hough’s playing is dazzling throughout’ (Sunday Times)
‘There are all too few pianists with the equivalent of Hough’s three Michelin stars … Opening with two of Mozart’s solo masterpieces, the ear is welcomed into an intimate, pellucid sound world with a sophisticated grading of dynamics … [Liszt-Busoni Fantasy on Non piu andrai] provides a hair-raising bravura display that deserves to be heard more often. At least, when played like this’ (Gramophone)
‘In a typically well-made program, the compelling British pianist springboards of Mozart into a series of tributes. The virtuosic challenges are handled with liquid clarity and intelligent expression. Mesmerizing in the Mozart, the transition to a more modern take comes surprisingly fluently’ (The Times)
Here is a 3-minute video in which Stephen Hough talks about himself…