Post by Springer
"HOUGH" good is it? Anyone in addition to DH hear it and care to comment?
I also found an article in the New Zealand Herald that talks about the
Power-drill trills on the keyboard
15.09.2004 By WILLIAM DART
Stephen Hough has "had a wonderful time in Australia", with reviews
suggesting that audiences enjoyed the pianist's visit as much as he did.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter McCallum waxed the deepest shade of purple
after Hough's recital, concluding this was "playing which mesmerised the ear
with rich imaginative worlds and hitherto unknown vistas of colour".
Aucklanders are able to have more than their fair share of the English
pianist over the next week or so, both in person and on disc.
Hough seems genuinely surprised that his new Hyperion CD of Rachmaninov's
works for piano and orchestra is already available in this country.
Recorded with the Dallas Symphony under Andrew Litton, this is Rachmaninov
with a difference. Hough admits that "the fact that it was recorded live
made it unusual enough to consider it for CD. Hyperion is the sort of label
that has to feel that each project has something special about it".
The set was recorded over three weeks in Dallas' superb Eugene McDermott
Concert Hall, "once the orchestra stopped being embarrassed about all the
portamentos, which are in the very blood of the music", adds Hough.
There was some disapproval, too, of the cover image which shows the composer
at the keyboard, complete with cigarette. "They kicked up a big fuss over
that," laughs Hough, "but I like the way that he has a certain Noel Coward
look instead of always looking like a Russian convict."
Hough confesses that he doesn't like recording, "but today when 95 per cent
of the classical music audience listen to recordings, you can't pursue that
stand. I like the fact that recordings catch what I feel about the pieces at
that moment, and I'm glad that those performances didn't just disappear in
Saint-Saens' Fourth Piano Concerto is on the bill when Hough appears with
the NZSO in Hamilton on Thursday and in Auckland on Friday. He has already
recorded this composer's complete works for piano and orchestra, and is a
fervent enthusiast. Phrases such as "thrilling journey from darkness to
light" and "power-drill trill" pepper his comments.
He points out that Saint-Saens has a virtual monopoly on the French romantic
piano concerto and, noting the composer's sense of humour, warns me that
"there are quite a few outrageous moments. When Pascal Tortelier and I got
to one jaunty theme, he just dropped the score and roared with laughter".
Next Friday, Aucklanders have another opportunity to hear Hough in that most
privileged of settings, "a solo recital" through the auspices of Chamber
Music New Zealand. For Hough this is his paramount activity as a pianist
because "it's the craft of playing. There are thousands of nuances here that
would have no place in the concerto."
"There's a lot of whispering in this programme," Hough confides, "the
Spanish music is full of half lights and mysterious little implications."
The advertising for the concert offers "Spanish sun and Viennese charm"
although they're not presented in that order. "It's really two contrasting
short recitals," explains Hough. "The first has two sonatas: Schubert at his
most serene, almost without a cloud, preceded by the writhing chromaticism
of the Berg."
Despite the intensity of the Berg, Hough assures me that it won't be "too
angst-ridden. It's almost a waltz, and as much from the Vienna of Johann
Strauss as the Vienna of Freud".
The second half of the programme does make it across the Pyrenees, although
Hough is quick to point out that Granados' Valses Poeticas is a tribute to
Schubert. "There's heavy Southern Spanish, the quaint picture-postcard Spain
of Moskowski's Caprice Espagnol and French composers like Debussy who can be
more Spanish than the real thing."