Stephen Hough plays the masters 

Internationally acclaimed British pianist Stephen Hough, who has recently released recordings of Tchaikovsky’s complete works for piano and orchestra and select works by Chopin, is returning to the Bay Area. Sponsored by Chamber Music San Francisco, Hough’s recital in Herbst Theatre on Saturday will include music by Bach, Chopin, Fauré and Franck.

The recital follows similar performances in London’s Royal Festival Hall; Bilbao, Spain; Oberlin College, Ohio; Carnegie Hall; Brisbane, Australia; Houston; Logan, Utah; Reading, England; and (yes) Fresno. Still to come are Paris and the Bath Festival.

This year alone, Hough has performed or will perform with the Bournemouth Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, BBC Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Orquestra Nacional de España, Cleveland Orchestra, Grand Teton and Aspen Festival orchestras and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

When he’s not concertizing, the Londoner is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at the Royal Northern College in Manchester.

A frequent guest at festivals such as Salzburg, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Aldeburgh and the BBC Proms (where he has played more than 15 concertos), he was televised worldwide performing with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle. The boy gets around.

Hough’s discography of more than 40 CDs has earned him several Grammy nominations, eight Gramophone Magazine awards (including Record of the Year twice, and, for his set of the complete Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos on Hyperion, the 2008 Gold Disc Award for one of the best recordings of the past 30 years), and several top German and French awards.

Hough’s new Chopin disc, released this month to celebrate the composer’s 200th birthday, includes two works on Saturday’s program: the 26-minute Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, and the shorter Nocturne in B major, Op. 62, No. 1.

Both were written in Chopin’s mid-30s, and exemplify his late style. (He died in 1849, at age 39). The sonata contrasts energetic themes with expansive, lyrically reflective passages, while the nocturne’s unbridled trills and mysterious chromaticisms seemed quite exotic at the time of its premiere.

Also on the program are Franck’s Prelude Chorale and Fugue, the Bach/Cortot Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and Fauré’s Barcarolle No. 5, Op. 66, Impromptu No. 5, Op. 102 and Nocturne No. 6, Op. 63. It’s a recital no lover of piano music will want to miss.

 
IF YOU GO
Stephen Hough

Presented by Chamber Music San Francisco

Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. May 1
Tickets: $34 to $48
Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.chambermusicSF.org

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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