Sir Stephen Hough (piano)

Born only 18 months apart, Chopin and Liszt are totally different musical
personalities. Introvert and extrovert is the simplest reduction, but it goes so much
deeper than that. We find the perfectionist Pole most comfortable playing for small,
select audiences in private salons, his tone rarely reaching forte; whereas the
extravagant Hungarian appears in front of a vast, adoring public, breaking strings and
hearts in equal measure. Nevertheless they meet at the keyboard where they both, in
their own fashion, created the voice and technique of the piano as we’ve known it for
the past 200 years.

They meet too in B minor in these, their two greatest large-scale works. Yet even here
the differences are striking: Liszt's one-movement epic, meticulously crafted as
'leitmotiv expanded into sonata-form', seems to encompass the dramatic story of all
humanity; whereas Chopin's more conventional four-movement structure is more
inward-looking - a bel canto singer's exquisitely lyrical outpouring rather than a whole
orchestra’s might.

Chaminade has a special place in my heart because her music was on the first LP I
owned as a child. She wrote a vast amount of small piano pieces with a unique voice,
combining the pianistic elegance of Saint-Saëns with the sweet melodiousness of
Massenet - but perhaps without the sang-froid of the former or the tendency to cloy of
the latter. I have not come across a bar of her music which lacks good taste or honest
sentiment … or which does not fit under the hand like the most sophisticated glove.
The pieces on this recital show various sides of her musical personality, from her love
of Baroque pastiche to her partiality for an irresistible romantic tune.--Note by Sir Stephen Hough


FRANZ LISZT: Sonata for Piano in B minor, S178

FREDERIC CHOPIN: Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58

About Sir Stephen Hough:
One of the most distinctive artists of his generation, Sir Stephen Hough combines a distinguished career as a pianist with those of composer and writer.
Named by The Economist as one of Twenty Living Polymaths, Hough was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (2001). He was awarded Northwestern University’s 2008 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano, won the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in 2010, and in 2016 was made an Honorary Member of RPS. In 2014 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2022.

Tickets: £25
Wednesday 7 February 2024 - 7.30 pm
Riverhouse Barn
Manor Road
KT12 2PF