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Stephen Hough

Discussion in 'Pianists' started by hyenal, May 20, 2010.

  1. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    He played in the Auditorium du Louvre yesterday and I just watched that recital on medici.tv (the VOD is available for free).
    I remember one day Nathan posted about him on this forum but I cannot find it again :( Anyway Chris seemed to like him very much, like Nathan, so I'm posting this.
    Much disturbed by my daughter I could concentrate myself on that recital only during Bach-transcription (Toccata and fugue c minor) and the third sonata of Chopin. These two were really good. I immediately fell in love with that transcription, but had to remind myself of my unfinished project (Bach-Rach) :roll: And the Chopin... it was the coolest rendition of that sonata. I like his style - original, but very natural.
    If anyone is interested in this recital and has watched it, could I be told what were the encores? (The three pieces sound somehow familiar to me, but I cannot identify them.)
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I can't believe he played that Bach Toccata. I thought 'serious' people pooh-poohed that piece. But I like it too and used to play it on my grandma's organ and pretend to be Vincent Price.
    Anyway, I skipped to the encores and unfortunately can't give any definitive answer. I liked all of them though. The second one sounds like Albeniz, Ginastera, or Villa-Lobos - that's about all I can think of right now.
     
  3. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Monica for your kind response. I liked the encores, too. Therefore I want to know which pieces they were.
    I found a review on another recital of him with (nearly) the same program on the web. I want to share a passage in which the author wrote about his Chopin, since I felt the same thing what I couldn't put into words:
    "The program concluded with more music by an émigré, Chopin’s Nocturne in B major, Op. 62, No. 1 and his Sonata no. 3 in B minor, Op. 58. This was rather unusual Chopin. Although his technique was obvious enough, Hough refused to play for display and focused on the construction and drama of both the Nocturne and the Sonata. I have never heard the shape and proportions of these works come through so clearly. What’s more, he had what seems to me an original and thoroughly compelling view of Chopin’s daring harmonies, both as progressions and as passing dissonances: he brought out the way in which Chopin keeps us in suspension, rather like Wagner in Tristan. The Nocturne, which contains some of Chopin’s most beautiful and moving music, was both exquisite and dramatic, as if it were telling some fascinating story in verse. His flowing tempo did not get in the way of his expressive contouring of the line. The sonata was both heroic and intimate, the feeling of suspension I just mentioned acted as a wondrous enhancement to the composer’s execution of sonata form, making it seem almost quasi una fantasia, but in the last movement, which he announced with a fairly quick, alertly timed statement of the opening chords, its heroic mood asserted the conventions of the sonata most stirringly, and the effect was almost symphonic."
    (http://berkshirereview.net/music/hough.html)
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I believe he's one of the greatest pianists of recent times, not just a supervirtuoso but also a very intelligent and thought-provoking musician. He is not afraid of programming things that nobody else does, while still being faithful to the core repertoire.
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hye-Jin, I have found out the names of those encore pieces, that is if you're still interested. I certainly am, because one of them is a Mompou piece that is definitely going to go right up on my piano after my competition is done.
     
  6. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Monica, I'm surely interested!!! Was one of them Mompou? I think I'm becoming to like him, too :D
    Please let me know the title of them before the VOD gets unavailable!
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, the last one is Mompou - specifically Jeunes Filles au jardin from his Scènes d'Enfants suite. I think I'll look at that set soon. I love Mompou! The other two pieces he played were:
    1. Albeniz/Hough: Capricho Catalan
    2. Hough: On Falla

    So looks like these two are Hough's own arrangements. Oh well, at least it appears that he's another Spanish-composer nut. Great!!
     
  8. hyenal

    hyenal New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Monica! I was watching another recital on that series (of Berezovsky) and realized that they listed also the encores belately! (I wasn't notified of your reply... strange...) Also I was surprised that all of them are "spanish"! And you know, I heard that Mompou at the recital of Volodos on the May 31th!!! He played some from that set. Therefore I got the impression the piece is somehow familiar. Hough's rendition of that piece is really tasteful....
     
  9. BrokenFingers

    BrokenFingers New Member

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  10. Chopaninoff

    Chopaninoff New Member

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    ^^ If your new to this pianist, I suggest listening to his Rachmaninoff. His Rhapsody based on a theme of Paganini is truly different, original, and unique.
     
  11. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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  12. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm glad for the bump! I was just setting up to do some recording, when tree-cutter guys showed up at the neighbors. Big loud truck, chain saws, stump grinders....Now I have to wait probably a couple hours. Grrr :x At least I can read this interesting article you posted, Andrew. I always enjoy reading Hough's stuff. The title of this article, "Liszt: the man who invented stage fright", boy is that something or what? And so many interesting postings regarding playing with the score or by memory. To use the score, or to not use the score....that is the question. Actually, that is my question every time I'm considering playing in public.
     
  13. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, it's a very serious question. The title is a little misleading in the sense that stage fright takes a lot more forms than worrying about memory failures (I vividly remember playing the most difficult piece I have ever learnt to a packed concert hall, having the score there for reasons of "safety" .. and before starting thinking "what on earth am I doing here? Why did I decide to play this?" and wishing I could magically exit unnoticed from the hall!) I usually play from memory, not because you necessarily play the piece better that way, but because I believe that the audience expects it.

    There are arguments for both sides, but the one thing you should never do is play from memory with the score in front of you (as an aide-memoire should you get stuck). The time spent having the memory lapse and then trying to work out where you are can be very embarrassing. Or you jump forward and your pageturner has to work out where you've gone to..
     
  14. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I am guilty of that and I agree to a point. Yes, if you've memorized the piece, and then at the last moment you decide to bring the score up to the piano with you, then you may have a problem. Like you said, if you're not used to playing from the score, then if you are playing by memory and then look up at the score you may not know right away where you are on the paper. So I used to feel like either you plan on using the score, or you don't - it's that simple and you should stick to your decision. However, I'm changing my mind now. I think I'd rather have that pause in finding my place in the score, than to be totally stuck if I've had a major memory lapse and then just sit there mortified. That's happened to me. I was playing a big piece and got stuck in the middle somewhere and my fingers just stopped and hovered over the keys for what felt like eternity. Somehow I managed to backup and restart that section and got through all the way to the end but I was so shook up mentally that I couldn't concentrate and really didn't have a clue as to what I was playing. My fingers were just sort of on automatic pilot and because of that my playing was not musical at all. I felt terrible because I knew I could have played the piece much better if all that hadn't happened.
     
  15. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ok. Two comments/suggestions.

    1. If you are going to play an (already memorised) piece from the score in concert, do yourself a big favour, and practice it with the score. Retain the memorisation by all means, but having run through it repeatedly from the score means you are far less likely to get lost in the event of accidents.

    2. I strongly believe that if you have a memory lapse, don't go back. Go forward. Mentally select a nearby bar which constitutes something structurally significant (this shouldn't be too difficult if you have thought about the architecture of the piece and if you keep calm). Find a way to connect, harmonically or melodically, even rhythmically, wherever you currently are at on the piano to that bar, join them up and continue. It looks much more convincing to an audience than stopping and starting. Half of the time they won't even know! (Disclaimer: I'm good at improvisation, so the process seems easier to me than maybe it actually is).
     
  16. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I strongly agree with you here!


    Good tip. Next time I have to perform, I'll practice improvising in random places - if that's even possible. I'm not a good improviser. I'm also afraid I would randomly start playing "Misty" because that's what I always play when I'm just screwing around.
     
  17. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Andrew,

    That is a good article. Thanx for posting it.

    Over that past several years, every time that I would consider getting a program together to perform locally, I find myself holding back because of the need for all of that memory. Then I would consider just doing it using the score, but my past training has some how put in the back of my mind that that is somehow cheating. After reading that I article, I don't think that I will feel the guilt so much.

    One good point in his case for using the score is that it allows one to create and perform a larger variety of programs rather than getting stuck just performing a few pieces.

    Y'all make a good point about practicing a memorized piece with the score in advance. I have often noticed in the past how much more difficult it often is to play a piece that I have had memorized (but has faded over time) from the score. On a similar note, I have found it sometimes difficult to learn a piece from one edition and then playing from a different one for some reason. The crazy thing is that the measures are not in the "right" place on the page and I get lost or it just looks strange.

    Scott
     
  18. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    That makes perfect sense and is my experience also. It's very confusing to your sub- or semi-conscious spatial memory of the piece on the page, to say nothing of introducing page turns in unexpected places! Even same edition, different binding scenarios where left hand pages end up on the right and vice versa can be pretty disorientating.
     
  19. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hye-Jin, I'm not sure if you are going to read this, but I saw Stephen Hough play yesterday afternoon in Chicago. He was not part of my regular subscription series, but when I learned he was coming to Chicago, I splurged and purchased one more concert. I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be one of my favorite concerts to date.

    In case anyone else is interested, this was his program: Beethoven - Sonata in C-sharp Minor, (Moonlight), Hough - Sonata for Piano (broken branches), Scriabin - Sonata No. 5 in F-sharp Major, Op. 53, Liszt - Sonata in B Minor

    It’s been a while since I have watched/listened to anyone play the Moonlight – the last movement is certainly fun to watch! And he did a bang-up job on it too!

    Next up was his own composition, "Broken Branches". A very interesting set; I liked the sound of it – some real neat harmonies and such. I found it a little ironic that this was the only time in which he read from the score on the piano. He wrote the music, so you’d think he’d remember what he wrote. Perhaps it is still so new that it hasn’t had time to fully sink into his memory yet...

    I was not familiar with the Scriabin piece, but I liked it. At times I heard some jazzy-sounding chords.

    The Liszt Sonata – of course I’ve heard this piece many times, but have to say that I so much enjoyed Hough’s playing of it. Not sure if I was in a good place in my mind, like it was a good piano-listening day because the stars were aligned correctly or what, but his playing moved me like I’ve never been moved before. I can’t really explain it.

    He played two encores, both Chopin! The first was the Waltz in A-flat, Op. 69, no. 1. This was the very first Chopin piece I ever played and have a recording of it on the site. But WOW I loved the way Hough played it!! He did some different things that I had not considered before – I really think I have to redo my version now. The second encore was the ever-popular Nocturne Op. 9, no. 2, which happens to be the nocturne I like the least! I guess I’m so tired of it and can barely stand listening to it anymore. But Hough’s playing made it much more bearable.

    Overall, Hough has wonderful technique. He can play so delicately and inserts so much character into the music that for me it was like hearing this music for the first time.
     
  20. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    A great 2nd half! I love the Scriabin 5!
     

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