Stephen Hough, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

The first half located itself in Vienna, opening with a clearly contoured account of Alban Berg's one-movement Piano Sonata, Op 1. Thence from fin-de-siècle twilight to the Biedermeier sunshine of Schubert at his most ineffably radiant in the late Sonata in G D894. Was there, for once, a touch of self-consciousness in the way Hough teased the opening waltz rhythms instead of allowing them to generate their own swing? No matter; things were soon flowing, though this was a fairly brisk, brightly lit account compared with the likes of Sviatoslav Richter.

The second half shifted to Spain, though, as Hough wrote in his programme note, the charming sequence of Valses Poeticos by Enrique Granados was modelled on Schubert, while connections could be drawn between Berg's and Debussy's use of the whole-tone scale. Hough's account of Debussy's Spanish-style prelude "La sérénade interrompue" and "La Soirée dans Grenade" from Estampes brought some of the subtlest contrasts of touch and colour of the evening.

He preceded these with two movements from that fount of pianistic impressionism, Albeniz's Iberia, the sultry "Evocación" that opens the set and the pungent "Triana" from Book II, unfazed by their most elaborate demands. Hough's slightly hectic account of the later pages of Ravel's "Alborada del graciosa" from Mirroirs was the only moment when he sounded under technical pressure.

Minutes later he was rattling off the equally fiendish machine-gun note repetitions of Moritz Moszkowski's outrageously over-the-top Caprice Espagnole with irresistible crispness and fire. Among the four encores demanded, his account of Grieg's Notturno from the fifth book of Lyric Pieces held us breathless.

Recital to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 2pm on Sunday 20 November