Stephen Hough at the Proms

Stephen Hough at the Proms
Stephen Hough at the Proms with Brahms n.1 with the BBC Philharmonic under Mark Wigglesworth and David Sawer`s The Greatest Happiness Principle and Haydn Symphony n.99 in E flat.
Interesting to hear Stephen Hough’s splendid account of Brahms in this hallowed hall where I well remember Claudio Arrau in a memorable evening that included Weber`s Konzertstuck.
Living up to the prediction that Cherkassky saw in him all those years ago as the only pianist of the younger generation who actually listens to himself and has a “sound”.
He has since taken the world by storm with amongst other things his live recordings of the complete Rachmaninoff and Saint Saens concertos.
A refined palate of a bygone age that of Rosenthal,Lhevine,Godowsky or Cherkassky.
In fact anyone who has heard his own tantalizing bon bons at the end of his recitals might think they had gone back in time to the Golden Age of piano playing.
However he is also a distinguished composer and learned commentator on musical and world affairs.
Anyone who has heard his classes at the Royal Academy will realise what a serious modest artist he is .…/…
A truly renaissance man who after his early training with our never forgotten Gordon Green went on to perfect his studies in the USA.
His Brahms today did not have the weight of Arrau ,the frenzy of Serkin,the grandiose aristocracy of Rubinstein or the struggle of a Curzon.
This was the Brahms of a Hough the great english pianist.
A beautifully thought out Brahms of great simple lines stated with a pure and golden tone.
Never lacking in great rhythmic energy and real assurance in the tumultuous struggles between piano and orchestra that Brahms demands in the first movement of this early first concerto.
Great volume of sound from the first outbreak of octaves combined with a touching lyricism in the two solo cadenzas where his innate sense of balance led to some truly magical moments.
The slow movement too played with great authority.
The central section played with unusually great passion which only made the choral like return even more moving.
The great march like last movement played with a clarity and rhythmic energy that made the typical lyrical Brahmsian second subject even more regal and imperiously lyrical.
A very fine performance indeed greeted by an ovation from an audience that had followed the almost hour long journey in total silence.
Lacking only in that final touch of genius that is almost undefinable .
A question of sound colours maybe or of rhythmic energy behind the notes even in the most quietly lyrical passages.
That indefinable something that did not allow the atmosphere to stand still as it can on certain special occasions in the slow movement or to sweep us totally off our feet as it can on the great occasions.
Truly one of the finest pianist before the public today Cherkassky’s prediction was certainly spot on.
No encore possible after such a performance and the capacity audience was just happy to acknowledge it with a standing ovation.


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