New York, New York (April 28, 2020) — Following a lifetime of performances of the Beethoven piano concertos around the world, Stephen Hough commits to recording these five masterworks on a three-disc set with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, led by Chief Conductor Hannu Lintu. The cycle is released on Friday, May 1, by Hyperion Records, for which Mr. Hough has recorded more than 60 albums. Pre-orders are currently available from Hyperion-Records.co.uk and Amazon.com.
Mr. Hough is donating 100% of the royalties from the sales of the album to the charity Help Musicians.
“It’s a strange time for a new recording to be released, but Beethoven more than any other composer represents for me the ultimate triumph of determination over adversity, and the indefatigable human spirit. I hope this small gesture will go in some way to support those colleagues who are facing difficulties at this time of crisis.”
Mr. Hough and the orchestra performed the cycle over two concerts in May 2019, broadcast live on Finnish national television and radio, prior to recording them in the studio.
For the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 2, Mr. Hough composed his own cadenza, which he performed on this recording. The topic of Beethoven’s cadenzas, namely their evolution from Classical to Romantic over the course of the five piano concertos, is explored in his essay, “How Beethoven redesigned the cadenza,” one of several Beethoven-related essays in his recent anthology, Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More. Named one of the best books of 2019 by the Financial Times, Rough Ideas was published in the U.K. by Faber & Faber and in the U.S. by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
For a closer look at the recording and repertoire with Mr. Hough, see Gramophone magazine’s May 2020 cover story (information here).
Apple Music pre-release track: Piano Concerto No. 5, II. Adagio un poco mosso (https://music.apple.com/gb/album/piano-concerto-no-5-in-e-flat-major-emperor-op-73-ii/1507182212?i=1507182215)
Mr. Hough has performed the Beethoven piano concertos numerous times with the world’s leading orchestras throughout his 30-year career, including No. 3 (2019) and the “Emperor” (2017) with the New York Philharmonic. Prior to worldwide cancellations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Hough had been scheduled to perform Beethoven concertos this season with the National Symphony Orchestra in April, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in July and August, and on tour this summer in China performing with the China Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, among others.
Mr. Hough’s previous recording was Brahms: The Final Piano Pieces, released by Hyperion Records in January 2020. It was Gramophone magazine’s “Disc of the Month” and No. 1 in the U.K. Specialist Classical Chart.
Stephen Hough is regarded as a Renaissance man of his time. Over the course of his career, he has not only secured a reputation as an insightful pianist, but also as a writer and composer. In 2001, he was the first classical performing artist to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and, in 2013, he was named a Commander of the British Empire. He has appeared with most of the major American and European orchestras and plays recitals regularly in major halls and concert series around the world. His recordings have garnered international prizes including the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or, Monde de la Musique, several Grammy nominations, and eight Gramophone Magazine Awards including the 1996 and 2003 “Record of the Year” Awards and the 2008 “Gold Disc” Award. Mr. Hough has composed music for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, and solo piano, and his compositions are published by Josef Weinberger, Ltd. He is also an avid painter whose work has been exhibited at the Broadbent Gallery in London.
A noted writer, Mr. Hough has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times (U.K.), Evening Standard, The Tablet, Gramophone, and BBC Music Magazine. For seven years, until 2016, he wrote more than six hundred articles for his blog on The Telegraph, which became one of the most popular and influential forums for cultural discussion. Mr. Hough resides in London and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and The Juilliard School in New York. He holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester, and he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool in 2011.
Beethoven: The Piano Concertos
Hyperion Records CDA68291/3
Stephen Hough, piano
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Hannu Lintu, conductor
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Piano Concerto No 1 in C major Op 15 [33’18]
1. Allegro con brio [14’10]
2. Largo [10’17]
3. Rondo: Allegro [8’51]
Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major Op 19 [28’17]
4. Allegro con brio [13’47]
5. Adagio [8’10]
6. Rondo: Allegro molto [6’20]
Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor Op 37 [36’37]
7. Allegro con brio [17’04]
8. Largo [10’03]
9. Rondo: Allegro [9’30]
Piano Concerto No 4 in G major Op 58 [35’08]
10. Allegro moderato [19’42]
11. Andante con moto [5’03]
12. Rondo: Vivace [10’23]
Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat major ‘Emperor’ Op 73 [38’53]
13. Allegro [20’53]
14. Adagio un poco moto [7’23]
15. Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo [10’37]
Recording details: June 2019
Helsinki Music Centre, Finland
Total duration: 172 minutes 13 seconds