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Stephen Hough receives rave review

Mon, 13 Sep 2004

Stephen Hough receives rave review


Experience the intimacy of live chamber music, intense, in recital with acclaimed pianist Stephen Hough, on a trip across southern Europe with a programme dominated by the sunny spirit of Iberia.

"He plays with ringing power, but the expressive delicacy of his touch marks him as a virtuoso who begins where others leave off." - Washington Post

WELLINGTON Thursday 23 September, 8pm, Wellington Town Hall AUCKLAND, Friday 24 September, 8pm, Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall TICKETS $50 A Reserve, $40 B Reserve (service fees apply) Book at Ticketek, Wellington ph 04 384 3840, Auckland ph 09 307 5000

For more information, phone 0800 CONCERT (266 2378) or visit our website:


MEDIA RELEASE: Hough receives rave review For immediate release / 13 September 2004 / 165 words

English pianist Stephen Hough¹s performance in Sydney last week received a rave review from Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald.

The notoriously critical daily newspaper described Stephen¹s performance as "playing which mesmerised the ear with rich imaginative worlds and hitherto unknown vistas of colour."

Stephen will bring his magnificent pianism to New Zealand audiences when he performs recitals for Chamber Music New Zealand and concerts with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra this month.

He will perform in recital on Thursday 23 September in Wellington and Friday 24 September in Auckland. His CMNZ recital programme will start in a Viennese mood with sonatas by Berg and Schubert, followed by the lyrical beauty of Debussy and Ravel and will finish with fun and flash from some Spanish pieces.

Tickets $50 A reserve, $40 B reserve, concession prices from $15. Book at Ticketek, service fees apply. For more information visit or ph 0800 CONCERT (266 2378).

Chamber Music New Zealand acknowledges major funding from Creative New Zealand.


An acclaimed pianist in orchestral, chamber music and recital settings, in 2001 Stephen was the first classical musician to win a coveted MacArthur "genius grant". The $500,000 grant is awarded to individuals who show extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and encourages people to pursue their personal, creative, intellectual and professional ideas.

Other Œgeniuses¹ include art and cultural advocates Osvaldo Golijov (classical composer), Angela Johnson (children¹s novelist and poet), Lydia Davis (short story writer) and Korinne Dufka (human rights champion).

Featured in TIME magazine after his win in 2001, Stephen was described as "a totally unsnobby egghead who just happens to have a luminous, enveloping warm tone and enough technique for any two ordinary pianists."

Stephen¹s initial interest in music was self-motivated. With no classical upbringing in his childhood, he became fascinated with his friends¹ pianos, playing the tunes of nursery rhymes. He begged his parents to buy him a piano; eventually they relented when they found a bargain - his first piano cost five pounds.

Stephen¹s first piano teacher used to find him memorising pieces before the lesson had ended. He fondly remembers her as rather like a Roald Dahl character - a blue fiat 500 driving, "ferocious orange lipstick" wearing woman.

The rest as they say is history. Since those early days, Stephen has performed in recital at Carnegie Hall and The Louvre, made more than 30 critically praised recordings and appeared with major international orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

Alongside piano playing, Stephen¹s other great love is reading (serious fiction, classics and great modern works, poetry, biographies, social history, theology) and writing. His own work includes poetry, short stories and music.


Sydney Symphony International Piano Series with Stephen Hough City Recital Hall, September 7, 2004 Review by Peter McCallum September 9, 2004

"Stephen Hough has the most remarkable range of colour and sound at the piano but the dominant impression from his playing is the simple clarity of the musical idea he is trying to present and the directness with which he communicates it.

It is as though everything, the wonderful legato, the warmth of mid-range chords, the brilliance of the top and flashes of blazing intensity arise from some tangible musical vision suspended in the piano lid just above his unflinching eye, and Hough sits there, alert but not alarmed, reading it with the certainty of an oracle.

Berg's Piano Sonata is compressed and ruminative with astringently rich harmony, though the concentrated flow of expressive ideas can sometimes make the shape elusive. Through singing control of colour and line, Hough gave it the strange coherence of a dream where everyday ideas take on a luminous logic.

Equally rich in reflection is Schubert's Sonata in G Major, D 894, whose opening idea always seems poised in thought, returning distractedly to its opening chord as though reluctant to nudge itself along. Hough guided this mellifluously, keeping the forward movement without undue urgency. The second movement is built on a juxtaposition of opposites, a first idea of peaceful glow and a second of stormy decision. After they have argued it out for a while, Schubert pulls from nowhere some remarkable key changes, and Hough coloured and conjured these so subtly that the coda emerged like a person who is suddenly and inexplicably able to explain something which was previously most mysterious.

Hough gave Schubert's magical but potentially rambling finale a serenely logical shape, closing with glowing radiance like the sun going down.

After so much rumination in the first half, the second was a series of Spanish portraits, like pictures and memories which live and burn again for an instant.

Albeniz's Iberia suite was like a series of holiday sketches done with a light brush and bright colours. Debussy's La Soiree dans Granade was held back with richly coloured expectancy, flashing vividly in moments. Hough's approach to Ravel's Spanish masterpiece, Alborada del Gracioso, was severe, almost machine-like at times.

In Albeniz's Tango Hough achieved breeziness without sentimentality, while Moszkowski's Caprice Espagnol had carefree brilliance.

This was playing which mesmerised the ear with rich imaginative worlds and hitherto unknown vistas of colour."


Wellington, Thursday 23 September, 8pm Wellington Town Hall

Auckland, Friday 24 September, 8pm Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall

Programme BERG Sonata SCHUBERT Sonata in G major GRANADOS Valses Poeticas ALBENIZ Evocation & Triana (Iberia) DEBUSSY Interrupted Serenade & Soirees dans Granada RAVEL Alborada del Gracioso ALBENIZ/GODOWSKY Tango MOSKOWSKI Caprice Espangnol

STEPHEN HOUGH IN CONCERT WITH THE NEW ZEALAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Feat. Yan Pascal Tortelier conductor, Stephen Hough piano

Palmerston North, Wednesday 15 September, 8pm Regent On Broadway

Hamilton, Thursday 16 September, 8pm Founders Theatre

Auckland, Friday 17 September, 6.30pm Auckland Town Hall

Wellington, Sunday 19 September, 6.30pm Michael Fowler Centre

Christchurch, Tuesday 21 September, 8 pm Town Hall

Programme BERLIOZ Les Franc-Juges - Overture SAINT SAENS Piano Concerto No 4 TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 6 ŒPathétique¹

Tickets from $20, book at Ticketek, service fees apply.

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