Love the pianist, not the piano

I am hugely taken with Stephen Hough’s new set of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces on Hyperion. It’s my Album of the Week on

But I’m still having to adjust my ears to the piano he chose to play. Read my discomfort here.

hough lebrecht

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  • The best recording of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces I’ve ever heard is by American pianist Nicholas Roth. It’s on a small label, BGR.

    • Not sure what you mean by “best”, but for me the most beautifully played selection of Lyric Pieces ever recorded was done by Walter Gieseking (still available on CD).

  • Going by the online clips, I agree with Mr. Lebrecht on both the pianist (wonderful) and the piano (too sharp to my ears). Has Hough commented on whe he chose a Yamaha?

    Richter also played Yamahas in his last decades. I supposed he did so by choice.

  • In my experience, the way the piano is recorded (microphones, placement, room, etc) often has a bigger impact than the choice of instrument. A few centimetres can make a massive difference, and I even know of sound engineers using up to 8 mics (over the strings, xy facing the lid, room, one UNDER the piano, etc) to “compose”the “right” sound. I have not heard the recording in question though, and I have heard other recordings of Yamahas that came across as sharp. Maybe they sound totally different from where the pianist sits (I know from brass players that the “feedback” sound to the player can be very different to what arrives at the audience).

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