Stephen Hough: Vida Breve

RECORDING OF THE MONTH • review by ANDREW EALES
showcasing an inspiring recent piano recording.


“Vida breve” – life is short. Ah yes, and don’t we all know it!

But pianist Stephen Hough has crammed an improbable amount into his 59 years. Indeed, if there’s a piano artist in the UK today who deserves the accolade “polymath” it’s surely Hough; in addition to his much-in-demand concert appearances and illustrious recording career, he is well respected as a composer, commentator, writer and novelist.

Reminding us of his truly formidable pianism, Hough is back with a new recording on the Hyperion label, effectively a ‘recital-in-the-studio’ comprising virtuoso works by Bach/Busoni, Chopin, Liszt and Hough’s own Piano Sonata No.4 ‘Vida Breve’.

The leitmotif running through the programme is death, but when Hough sat down in front of the Yamaha CFX concert grand in St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town in December 2018 to make this recording, none knew that by the time of its release more than two years later, a global pandemic would have made the spectre of death a more imminent and vivid reality to so many.

If Hough’s choice of programme didn’t immediately entice me, it’s still more to his credit that in a month that saw several exceptional CD releases, Vida Breve takes the title Recording of the Month. Let’s find out why…

Continue reading Stephen Hough: Vida Breve

Schott’s ‘Joy of Music’

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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Schott Music is one of the world’s oldest and most revered music publishers, with a back catalogue that includes first editions of some of the greatest compositions in the history of Western Music.

Founded in 1770 by Bernhard Schott in Mainz, the distinguished publishing house celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2020, and Pianodao joins the music-loving community in congratulating them on this brilliant milestone.

Schott have themselves released a few new publications in which they celebrate their heritage, two of which I am now reviewing. Carsten Gerlitz’s Happy Birthday Schott Music will be reviewed separately, and in this article I will be looking at The Joy of Music: Discoveries from the Schott Archives, a collection of virtuoso and entertaining pieces of piano music for advanced players.

As Schott explain:

“To mark this anniversary, the Schott publishing house has dug up and reedited treasures from its historical publishing archives.”

Let’s lift the lid and see what’s inside this treasure chest….

Continue reading Schott’s ‘Joy of Music’

Catherine Gordeladze: Caprice Brillant

RECORDING OF THE MONTH • review by ANDREW EALES
showcasing an inspiring recent piano recording.


In my review of Catherine Gordeladze’s Dance Fantasies CD back in 2017, I concluded,

Dance Fantasies is a brilliant success, offering a fabulous selection of familiar and semi-familiar music in a fresh and inspired piece of programming.”

Now Gordeladze is back with an equally clever and in my view even better executed recital album intriguingly titled Caprice Brillant. Featuring a 76-minute programme of music from Bach to Kapustin, from Mendelssohn to Moszkowski, Gordeladze once again assembles an imaginative and riveting programme of too-little performed piano gems.

Let’s take a closer look at this month’s Pianodao Choice recording…

Continue reading Catherine Gordeladze: Caprice Brillant

William Youn: Laughter and Tears…

Artist photography: Irène Zandel

RECORDING OF THE MONTH • review by ANDREW EALES
showcasing an inspiring recent piano recording.


William Youn has been establishing a growing international reputation as a “genuine poet” of the piano (as one critic eloquently put it).

His recording of Mozart’s complete piano sonatas for Oehms Classics has received particular and extensive critical acclaim, and now he brings us his debut recital disc for major label Sony Classical.

Continue reading William Youn: Laughter and Tears…

The Classical Piano Sonata

THE PIANODAO BOOKSHELF
books for piano players, teachers, students and music enthusiasts


“Since my youth I have been fascinated by sonata form and, over a period of some forty years, all the programmes I have performed have been centred on works in that form. Therefore this book is a labour of love as much as, hopefully, a useful guide to some of the most marvellous music ever conceived.”

So writes Michael Davidson of his superb book The Classical Piano Sonata, which has since its publication in 2004 become something of a classic itself, and an indispensable guide for every serious pianist and music-lover.

Let’s take a closer look at the book, and evaluate what it is which makes it such an essential addition to the pianist’s library…

Continue reading The Classical Piano Sonata

Wiener Urtext: ‘Primo’ Series

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • by ANDREW EALES
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“Easy” collections of the core classical piano repertoire abound, but few bring to the table the depth of scholarship, reliable editing, fingering and expert advice found in the recent (and ongoing) “Urtext Primo” series.

As the latest collection in the series – featuring the music of Clementi, Czerny and Cramer – hits the shelves of music stores worldwide, let’s take a look …

Continue reading Wiener Urtext: ‘Primo’ Series

New Editions from G. Henle Verlag

Sheet Music Review

Here’s a quick roundup of the latest benchmark urtext editions from revered published Henle Verlag…


Brahms: Piano Sonata in F minor, Op.5

Brahms’ mammoth F minor Sonata, composed when he was just 20, is symphonic in scope.

This new edition by Katrin Eich, and with ingenious fingerings supplied by Andreas Boyde, comes from the New Brahms Complete Edition of 2014, and will be welcomed by all who wish to tackle this masterpiece!

publisher’s website

Brahms: Waltz in A flat, Op.39 No.15

How wonderful to see this stand-alone edition of Brahms’ well-loved classic, offering both the original and the slightly simplified version in A major, side-by-side!

Whether you are a teacher or player working on this piece, an academic or composition student, it’s fascinating to compare the two!

publisher’s website

Schumann • Liszt: Liebeslied (Widmung)

Liszt’s stunning virtuoso transcription of Schumann’s gorgeous love son “Dedication” from Myrthen, Op.25, has returned as a popular show-stopper in recent years, with recordings by Evgeny Kissin, Daniil Trifonov, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, and others giving the piece a wide audience.

Annette Oppermann’s new edition is a most welcome addition to the Henle catalogue.

publisher’s website

Dvorák: Humoresques Op.101

There’s no better place to begin an exploration of Dvorak’s solo piano music than these eight highly attractive pieces, and hopefully this brilliant new edition from Henle will help to bring these lovely works into wider circulation.

publisher’s website

Grieg: Norwegian Dances Op.35 for piano, four-hands

Grieg’s Norwegian Dances Op.35 for piano duet will be known to many from the popular orchestral version.

The original piano duet version is a brilliant concert work for advanced performers, and Ernst-Günter Heinemann’s new edition for Henle – co-edited and with fingering by the great Grieg performer Einar Steen-Nøkleberg – combines scholarship, clarity of presentation and helpfully organised page turns.

publisher’s website

Bartók: Suite Op.14

László Somfai’s authoritative new edition of the Suite Op.14, one of Bartók’s most important solo piano concert works, now supersedes the older Universal Edition version in several regards.

Of particular interest, it includes as an appendix the Andante movement that formed part of the original five-movement design of Bartók in 1916, but which was removed by the composer shortly before the work’s publication in 1918.

publisher’s website

Bartók: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs

Also edited by László Somfai and excerpted from the new Bartók Complete Edition, published by Henle in collaboration with Editio Musica Budapest, this is a welcome performing version of a rather neglected work.

In his fascinating Preface, Somfai explores the work’s complex background. The music itself is nicely organised on the page, and although the early pieces seem to me just a little more cramped than the old UE edition, the later movements (and particularly the dense Finale) are certainly more spacious, and overall this new version is without doubt the one to go for!

publisher’s website


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