Stephen Hough premieres his Piano Concerto

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Pianist and composer Sir Stephen Hough will unveil his new Piano Concerto, The World of Yesterday, in a world premiere performance with the Utah Symphony Orchestra in January

Sim Canetty-Clarke

Sir Stephen Hough will give the world premiere of his own Piano Concerto, The World of Yesterday, in Utah in January, with the Utah Symphony and Sir Donald Runnicles. Two performances at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City will be followed by further performances – in March with the Calgary Symphony and Rune Bergmann at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary, and in May with the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder in both Manchester and Sheffield.

Hough writes the following note about his new Piano Concerto: ‘I like subtitles, and have used them for most of my non-vocal works, but their significance for me is never one dimensional, or essential to the works’ meaning. It’s a peg.

‘This one, The World of Yesterday, has a few resonances. It is the title of the last book by Stefan Zweig, a memoir of his cultural life in Vienna before the First World War. I liked the instant suggestion of nostalgia with its evocation of a musical past of intense romance; and there is a section made up of a dark, decadent Viennese waltz with variations. But also such looking backwards has hints of the piano concerto’s own past as a form. From Mozart until the mid‑20th century a composer in most cases wrote a piano concerto for him- or herself to play. It was a way to communicate musical personality and to display pianistic prowess. This is true right up to Britten, Prokofiev, Bartók, Shostakovich and, supremely, Rachmaninov. What might it be to rediscover such a connection between creator and performer? This piece is my attempt to explore this.’

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