“On this recording,” writes Stephen Hough, “I wanted to explore some pieces that have (the theme of death) as part of their identity or inspiration.” And so, in this marvellous recital, Hough does, yes, adumbrate the skull beneath the skin in interpretations, of solo piano works well- and lesser-known, that are as forensically conceived as they are flamboyantly executed.

Stephen Hough: Vida breve

But this is also the pianist-composer as warrior-poet, leaping into the fray to wrestle his ancestors from Death’s clutches. Bach, Busoni, Liszt, Chopin, Gounod live again through Hough. He in turn lives through their music. One day, future pianists will likewise resurrect Hough. And so it continues. Death, thou shalt die, or perhaps more realistically, ars longa, vita brevis.

Thankfully, however,...