Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
May 2020

The Beethoven releases come thick and fast in this 250th-anniversary year, but few, I suspect, will be as full of surprises as Hough’s first recordings of this central repertoire. Unlike the solo piano works, the concertos are bound by Beethoven’s activity as Vienna’s most celebrated pianist since Mozart. Although Beethoven never played the Emperor Concerto (No 5 in E flat), it established a place in the repertoire long before the early post-Mozartian Nos 1 and 2. Hough uses a Viennese Bösendorfer rather than a period instrument, but it permits a period-style brilliance and clarity of articulation rarely heard in these works. With Lintu and the Finnish orchestra’s complementary accomplishments, he sets tempi that always sound right, and invests every phrase with a freshness and panache that takes the breath away.