Stephen Hough: Pianist and Composer



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In May, when British pianist Stephen Hough was in town to perform with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra and Carlos Kalmar, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind stopping by All Classical to tell me about three fantastic new CDs that the Hyperion label released this summer.  Stephen was more than happy to do so, despite the many distractions of Portland (Cacao Chocolates, Powell’s bookstores), and shared his wonderful insight into the intimate piano miniatures of Grieg known as “Lyric Pieces”, of which Stephen recorded his favorites.

The second CD we talk about pairs Mr. Hough with his longtime friend and musical collaborator, cellist Steven Isserlis.  On this particular disc they recorded Grieg’s one-and-only cello sonata (a nice follow-up to the Lyric Pieces), and Mendelssohn’s D Major sonata.  But Stephen is also an accomplished composer of many types of music, and tells the story of how he wrote a cello sonata for a left-hand pianist who ultimately refused to play Hough’s piece (find out in the audio blog).

Thirdly, Mr. Hough has recorded a gorgeous choral work called “Missa Mirabilis”, and so named for good reason, as Hough had a car accident before he’d completed the work.  Happily, the pianist survived along with the sketches.  You’ll hear a portion of his mass in the course of my conversation with Stephen.  A dramatic story that precedes what turns out to be a lyrical, haunting and inventively-orchestrated new piece.  I eagerly await more from Stephen Hough, but with these three new CDs, there’s plenty to keep us all satisfied for some time.

Grieg Lyric Pieces
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Cello Sonatas by Grieg, Mendelssohn and Stephen Hough
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Stephen Hough’s Missa Mirabilis (with choral works by Vaughan Williams)
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