So far, all of our 2009 Repertoire Reports have been on either conductors or orchestras, and I thought it would be very interesting to look at a report for a leading non-conductor. Pianist Stephen Hough is certainly by every measure one of the top artists in the world these days- he was practically the house band for the Proms this summer, playing all the Tchaikovsky works for piano and orchestra. He’s had a busy year, but he seems to have been careful to not commit to too much- only 15 works on his list, essentially one recital program (which got tweaked a couple of times through the year) and 7 concerti, including 4 by Tchaikovsky. There’s no Beethoven, no Brahms and very little German music at all. Chopin figures highly, but Debussy and Ravel are absent. Stephen is a composer in his own right, but there are no works by living composers on his list for this year.
I wonder if he was a little extra cautious with repertoire this year because he was doing some of the Tchaik’s for the first time. The pressure of doing such a huge project under the spotlight of televised concerts at the Albert Hall must have been extraordinary. I’m sure he’s hoping that he continues to get opportunities to re-visit pieces like the Concert Fantasy, which must have taken a lot of work to prepare even for him and is almost never played- it’s not going to be an easy sell to presenters. Still, whether he’s succeeded in bringing more of Tchaikovsky’s output into the mainstream (I’ve always loved the 2nd concerto), it was a wonderful project and one that deserved the attention and profile of an artist of his stature.
We’ll look forward to a 2010 repertoire report to see if the number of works and range of projects is typical. Will there be other cycles like the Tchaik? New recordings? You can see a preview of next year here.
Of course, Stephen writes one of the most interesting blogs out there– do check it out.
1- Bach/Cortot/Hough: Toccata & Fugue in D minor
2- Fauré: Nocturne No. 6, Op. 63
3- Fauré: Impromptu No. 5, Op. 102
4- Fauré: Barcarolle No. 5, Op. 66
5- Franck: Prelude, Chorale and Fugue
6- Copland: Piano Variations
7- Chopin: Nocturne in B Major, Op. 62, No. 1
8- Chopin: Sonata in B minor, Op. 58
9- Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No.1
10- Mozart: Piano Concerto K. 467
11- Rachmaninov: Paganini Rhapsody
12- Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no. 1
13- Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no. 2
14- Tchaikovsky: Concert Fantasy
15- Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no. 3