Stephen Hough, pianist
Dvořák’s Piano Concerto is one of his earlier works. He wasn’t a pianist, so it’s written as if for ten thumbs rather than the human hand. It also had a rather difficult early life because someone called Kurz, a Czech piano teacher and pianist, decided it was unpianistic and made his own version of it. Whereas the original piece is very lyrical, understated and not virtuosic, Kurz tried to make it into a Lisztian-style big piece; but the material just doesn’t fit that style. I think this is one of the reasons it has been neglected because people heard it in that version and therefore got the wrong impression of it. I think it’s one of the loveliest piano concertos. The second movement is particularly extraordinary – it seems mystical in a nature-worshipping kind of way: you imagine forests and strange visions. It’s got very unsettling harmonies to it.