2009 Repertoire Report- Stephen Hough

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

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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2 comments on “2009 Repertoire Report- Stephen Hough”

  1. Foster Beyers

    Hough performed all of the Tchaikovsky works for piano and orchestra with the Minnesota Orchestra in the last year. They will be released as live recordings on Hyperion.

  2. Zoltan

    *Love* the TSCH PC2 as well! It has grandeur, ear-catching tunes, romantic longing and a very different yet strangely attractive slow movement for a piano concerto. It’s a pity it’s not played a bit more often!
    I think will listen to it tonight with Scherbakov playing!

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