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November 20, 2011

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Recital of 'unusual' piano sonatas

BRITISH pianist Stephen Hough performs sonatas by Liszt, Scriabin and Beethoven, as well as his own composition, on December 7.

In a recital at Shanghai Concert Hall, Hough will perform Liszt's "Sonata in B Minor" for the 200th anniversary of the composer, Scriabin's "Sonata No. 5" and Beethoven's "Sonata in C Sharp" (the "Moonlight Sonata"). He will perform his own Sonata for Piano, "Broken Branches."

Hough calls the program a collection of "strange sonatas."

"None of them has the usual form," he says, noting that Liszt, Scriabin and his own works begin and end with the same material. "Thus, they are cyclic, unlike most sonatas which move in a forward direction."

Hough considers Liszt's "Sonata in B Minor" the greatest piano work of the Romantic Period.

"It needs to feel as if improvised, with every idea and development a surprise; but also it needs to be held together like the architecture of a great building, all things seeming inevitable," Hough says. "Its deep exploration of the human condition is much harder than playing the notes themselves."

In addition to giving recitals and performing as a chamber musician, Hough is a composer and has recorded more than 50 CDs. His set of the four Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini won him his seventh Gramophone Award as well as the Classical BRIT Critics Award.

Hough's family is not musical; he first picked out nursery rhymes on a piano in his aunt's home. He studied at Julliard.

For Hough, the great performers are always the exceptions to the famous schools, such as Russian French and English. Horowitz, Richter, Gilels and Rachmaninoff, though all considered Russian masters, all perform very differently, he says.

"Music speaks in the language of its epoch, but then challenges and directs it," says Hough. "The 20th century was the most turbulent in history and so it is right that its music should be multi-colored and sometimes chaotic. Eventually we have to sort out the good from the bad, the merely experimental from that of lasting value."

Date: December 7, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Concert Hall, 523 Yan'an Rd E.

Tickets: 60-480 yuan

Tel: 962-388


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