Pianist Stephen Hough returns to Australia in April for his fourth tour with Musica Viva.
The British-Australian pianist is a familiar and well-loved face to Australian audiences. Stephen Hough, whose father was born in Newcastle (Australia), is a true polymath, being a gifted writer, composer and painter in addition to his pianism. He is also a noted connoisseur of fine tea, perfume and hats.
Hough will open his Australian program with one of Schubert’s late sonatas, a ‘sonata of sighs’, thought to have been written just after the diagnosis of Schubert’s final illness.
“In the Schubert there almost isn’t any light at all,” describes Hough. “Even when it goes into the major, it’s more heartbreaking than it is in the minor – that’s of course something that Schubert does really well.”
Hough describes the first half of the programme as a progression from darkness to light and continues, “In the Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue there is this incredible, deep-suffering piece that, at the end, has this amazing opening-out. So you really do come out of the darkness.”
Then follows Hough’s own latest piano work, the Sonata No. 3, ‘Trinitas’, which will make its Australian premiere on this tour.
In this new sonata, commissioned jointly by the Catholic magazine The Tablet and the Barbican Centre, Hough – whose Catholic faith is a driving force in his creativity – is inspired by the symbolism of the number three and what he sees as the parallel dogmas of the Trinity in the church and of 12-tone serialism in music.
“There’s a triptych idea behind this as well: the three movement Schubert, the Franck in three parts, and my sonata being the ‘Trinitas’,” says Hough.
The second half of the programme contains pieces by Liszt: selections from the Forgotten Waltzes, and from the Transcendental Studies.
“I feel a very strong connection with Liszt because I play so much of his music,” says Hough. “But I see other connections as well; connections between Liszt and Schubert because Liszt’s transcriptions brought Schubert’s song literature to a wider audience. Then Franck’s connection with Liszt: he was someone who lived in Paris in that Lisztian time and began his life writing Lisztian pieces with incredible virtuosity.”
The programme: SCHUBERT Piano Sonata no 14, D.784/ FRANCK Prelude, Chorale and Fugue/ HOUGH Piano Sonata III (Trinitas)/ LISZT Valse Oubliées no 1 and 2/ LISZT Transcendental Études
Tickets: Call 1800 688 482 or visit musicaviva.com.au/Hough
Click here for information on Stephen Hough’s Musica Viva masterclass.