Does the world really need another recording of the Grieg piano concerto? The answer has to be an emphatic yes when the soloist is the barnstorming Stephen Hough, a pianist with the fascinating ability to take a venerable work, strip it of its patina and present it as though for the very first time. This is a wonderfully alert performance, mixing novel tempi with awesome technique and breathtaking, tingling tension. Hough's terrific reading of Liszt's first piano concerto at London's Royal Festival Hall in January got the bicentenary celebrations off to a flying start in the UK, and here we can enjoy it again, this time with the warm and generous Bergen Philharmonic under the meticulous Andrew Litton, coupled with a virile account of the majestic second concerto. Highly recommended.
Stephen Pritchard has written on classical music for most of his 45 years in journalism. He was the Observer's first readers' editor, and prior to that was a managing editor and production editor