Stephen Hough at the Wigmore Hall live with such
refined playing in the grandest of style for the reawakening of music making that had remained for too long only in our dreams
And what greater and more noble beginning could there be than the Bach Chaconne a rebirth too from the solo violin to the piano thanks to Busoni’s inspired reworking.
It was Busoni who took part in the opening Gala of the Bechstein Hall on 31st May 1901.
Stephen Hough not only dressed the part but more importantly was inspired to give a performance of a lifetime.
Such nobility and poignant tenderness but above all a grandeur that is the genius of Bach no matter what the means(having been treated to so many out of tune pianos these past weeks it was a joy to hear this magnificent Steinway in all its glory)
An outpouring of love was exactly what Stephen gave us with a Schumann Fantasie that sung its heart out with passionate longing.The opening played so mellifluously and the fleeting changes of mood played with such inspiration.The final quote from Beethoven to the distant beloved was played with a lack of simplicity like gasps of air in Clara’s absence.
A real live performance that had us on the edge of our seats in the second movement.
A tour de force never perfect but so exciting and vibrantly alive.
An understandable gasp for air that led to the ecstasy of the final movement that grows and glows out of the majesty of the final transcendental gallop of the second movement.
Sublime comes to mind as the subtle intimate phrasing of one of Schumann’s most perfect creations makes one realise how fortunate Clara was to have known a love like this.
The magic reappearance of the theme at the end floating so magically in the air .We were drawn in to an atmosphere that only live performance can create on very special occasions that Gilels said was the very difference between live and canned music.
Following so carefully Schumann’s indications, as is so rarely the case ,these innocent arpeggios turned into a turbulent passionate wave that enveloped us as the final sumptuous quiet chords were placed with such loving care and a silence that we surely felt over the refined air wafting over this vast empty hall into our homes and hearts.
We expected a scintillating encore that Stephen often has up his sleeve as was often the wont of the ghosts of the many pianists of a past age looking on in this historic venue.
But this was a recital of such refined playing that it was only Bach who could have the last word.
A compromise: Meditation on Bach by Gounod/Busoni and Hough.
Ave Maria floating so magically on Bach’s first prelude had us wanting this moment after such a long silence to last forever.