hough’s sonatas challenge convention

Music Viva presents pianist and savant Stephen Hough in two Sydney recitals this week.

Featuring the sonatas of  Beethoven, Scriabin and Liszt, all of which challenged convention at the time, the most curiosity may be aroused by the Australian premiere of Hough’s own composition, broken branches, commissioned by Wigmore Hall and Musica Viva Australia. Composed in 2010, Hough premiered the piece in London at the Wigmore Hall in June this year.

Hough has described broken branches as a sonata for piano. Breaking the mould, he has constructed 16 movements int his work, each with a title that describes its mood:

Prelude (Autumn) – desolato – fragile – inquieto – piangendo – immenso – sentimento – malancolico – passionato – freddo – volando – ritmico – non credo – morendo – crux fidelis – Postlude (Spring).

So why the title ‘sonata’. In his blog posted on the eve of  the Wigmore Hall premiere, he says ” I wanted a title which would pull these fragments together.  The work is not a collection of  albumleaves – of saplings existing comfortably in their own space – but branches from a single tree”.

 He adds: “The climax of this Sonata is a section called ‘non credo’, based on material from the Credo of my ‘Missa Mirabilis’ which explores issues of doubt and despair in the context of the concrete affirmations of the Nicene Creed.  The penultimate section, a wordless but metrically exact setting of the 6th century text ‘Crux Fidelis’, reveals another ‘branch’ – the wood of the Cross…..Branches begin their lives anew in the Spring, and nothing is so broken that it cannot be healed”.

Surprised at Hough’s compositional activities? He has also written a Mass for Westminster Abbey, a Trio for members of the Berlin Philharmonic, and a set of Other Love Songs.

broken branches will be released on CD in November, and the music has been published by Joseph Weinberger.

Read more:

Interview with The Telegraph prior to the world premiere of broken branchesat the Wigmore Hall:


Review of the Wigmore Hall premiere: http://www.musicomh.com/classical/wigmore-hough_0611.htm

Review of Hough’s Perth concert: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/entertainment/a/-/entertainment/10420651/review-stephen-hough-piano/

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor, Op.27 No.2, (“Moonlight”) (c1801)            
HOUGH (born 1961) Sonata for piano (broken branches) (2010)*    
SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Sonata No.4 in F sharp major (c1903)    
SCRIABIN Sonata No.5 in F sharp major (c1907)                
LISZT (1811-1886) Sonata in B minor, S178 (c1852-3)             

To book online: www.cityrecitalhall.com  call 8256 2222 or in person at The City Recital Hall, 2, Angel Place, Sydney.               

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