Beautifully recorded, with presence and clarity, by David Hinitt (Henry Wood Hall, London, April 2020), Stephen Hough gives a probing and illuminating account of D894, absorbing its song, dance, poignancy and dynamic contrasts into a compelling whole. Tempos are unfailingly well-judged, phrasing is consistently shapely, and there is a subtle suggestion of a narrative being expounded, the expansive opening movement (repeat observed) beginning a momentous journey. This is grand playing, when required, also intimate, confiding and impassioned (slow movement), emphatic and gawky (Scherzo), suggesting faraway visions (Trio), all rounded by an ideal ‘walking’ gait for the capricious Finale, concluding with a sense of contented achievement.

Following the tantalising one-minute fragment of an E-minor Sonata (D769a), which stops brutally just as things are getting going, Hough’s playing of D664 is of finesse and bountiful expression, with a final movement that sparkles. Hyperion CDA68370 is impressive on all counts, not least that Hough isn’t obvious in what he does, and his distinct personality proves to be the perfect and rewarding complement to Schubert’s intentions.

Hough on Hyperion – Chopin & Schumann.