Stephen Hough | Galvin Recital Hall, Northwestern University | Classical | Chicago Reader

Stephen Hough Recommended All Ages Soundboard Image

When: Thu., Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m. 2015

The British pianist Stephen Hough continues to exhibit uncommon touch and restraint when it comes to the Romantic era. Earlier this year he released the stunning recording Grieg: Lyric Pieces (Hyperion), which features 27 of the 66 brief tone poems Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg published in ten volumes between 1867 and 1901. Hough’s thoughtful, easy-flowing sequence includes beautifully melancholic pieces as well as driving ones like “March of the Trolls,” all rendered with precision and clear-eyed directness. Also out this year is a Hyperion release where he mixes solo work by Alexander Scriabin and Leoš Janáček, sequencing the former’s Piano Sonata no. Five and some of his poèmes around the latter’s heartbreaking On the Overgrown Path, a ten-part cycle largely written after the 1903 death of the composer’s daughter and the initial failure of his opera Jenůfa. Hough eschews anything mawkish and focuses on the differences between the composers: the long, flowing lines of Scriabin contrast with the shorter, sometimes repeating cells of Janáček. For this evening’s program he’ll perform Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor; Franck’s Prelude, Chorale et Fugue; and a couple each of Liszt’s Oubliees and Transcendental Études. Giving the work a contemporary component is the local premiere of his own Sonata III (“Trinitas”), which employs serialist techniques and focuses on the number three in some of its organizational gambits.

Peter Margasak

Price: $30, $10 students

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