I was fortunate to hear Hough play this live in concert last year. It's elusive music, very much dependent on variety of tone colour to make it effective--a difficult work to bring off in performance. It's probably even harder to make it work in a recording, where any unevenness of tone is even more obvious. Hough's own performance was of course very convincing.
It's great to see new works such as this appearing on the site.
I think titles are very important and the fact that Mr. Hough writes a Sonata for Piano with 16 small tidbits is most odd.
The concert in which he performed it was a collection of unconventional sonatas: Moonlight, Liszt B minor and Scriabin 5. He's reminding us that the word "sonata" now has a much broader meaning than it did for Mozart and Haydn.
(are you sure that in no 1 you observed the correct clefs?)
Yes, I have a score here and it's all correct.
somehow it reminds me of Janacek's On an Overgrown Path - without being as luminous...
"Luminous" is a good word for this. It's a quality that was present in Hough's performance, and this recording could use more of it.
Mostly it's to do with voicing (see Eddy's other thread on this subject!) and independence of hands. The music is deceptively simple in terms of not having too many notes (and the layout of the score is very attractive: there's a lot of space on the page and it looks very clean). But there's a wealth of detail in the dynamic markings. Some nuances of tone are up to the performer's imagination, but quite a lot is notated.
For example: at the very beginning, the LH is marked "sempre p
" while the RH is mp
with some hairpins: the RH should rise and fall with the phrases while the LH stays more in the background. At bar 13 (00:52 in this recording), what starts out as the lower voice of the RH is written in small notes with the marking "pp sempre
", while the upper voice is normal size and mp
. So the lower voice is just the "ghost" of the opening, while the upper voice sounds quite different--and then we should be able to hear clearly when the two voices cross. The last note of the prelude (1:51) has the top note marked forte but the lower note only mp.
If you can bring out all of these details (not at all easy to do!) then the music becomes much richer and more captivating.
I won't go through the rest of the score in such detail. I'll just comment that for the piano used in this recording, in passages such as the high octaves in the "immenso" movement (6:19 onwards) you'll get a better, fuller sound if you make the lower note louder than the upper note. (This sort of thing varies a lot from one instrument to another; you need to experiment to get the best sound.)
I look forward to hearing more of this: keep up the good work.