As a world-renowned piano virtuoso, Stephen Hough has demonstrated time and again his prodigious skills in brilliant performances of the great concertos, though as a recording artist, he has revealed a wider range of repertoire and unexpected interests. This Hyperion release of Edvard Grieg's Lyric Pieces is an example of how Hough sometimes ventures into quiet, less familiar byways that offer him a variety of expressive possibilities. These miniatures are far removed from blockbuster showpieces, and their picturesque scenes and delicate melodies suggest the careful handiwork of the craftsman. They also reflect Grieg's nostalgia for the Romantic past and love for Norwegian fairy tales and folkways, which he expressed with disarming simplicity and succinctness. Hough's program of 27 selections from the larger collection of 66 pieces, published in 10 books, extends from the early Arietta of 1867 to Remembrances of 1901, giving a generous representation of Grieg's intimate musings and evocative character studies. Hough's playing tends toward the smoothly turned phrase and a gentle touch, though he sometimes brings out the piano's harsher metallic sonorities in more forceful pieces.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson