Visiting Artists

Visiting Artist Series
Stephen Hough, piano; Steven Isserlis, cello

HoughIsserlis.inddThe Williams College Department of Music presents pianist Stephen Hough, together with cellist Steven Isserlis on Wednesday, March 9 at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public.

Williams welcomes one of the world’s leading concert pianists, Stephen Hough, along with acclaimed cello soloist Steven Isserlis. They present a program together including “Waldesruhe,” op. 68, No. 5 by Antonin Dvorak; Ballade and Seranade for Cello and Piano, op. 3 by Josef Suk; and Sonata in A minor for Arpeggione and Piano, D. 821 by Franz Schubert. After the intermission comes Sonata for Cello and Piano, Left Hand, “Les Adieux,” composed by Stephen Hough. They close their program with Edvard Grieg’s Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36.

Named by The Economist as one of 20 Living Polymaths, British pianist Stephen Hough is a rare renaissance man of our time. Over the course of a long and distinguished career as one of the world’s leading concert pianists, he has also excelled as a writer and composer. Mr. Hough combines an exceptional facility and tonal palette with a uniquely inquisitive musical personality, and his musical achievements have resulted in many awards and accolades for his concerts and a discography of more than fifty recordings.

In 2001 Mr. Hough became the first classical performing artist to win a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded the 2008 Northwestern University’s Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano and went on to win the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in 2010.  He has appeared with almost all of the major European and American orchestras and plays recitals regularly in halls and concert series around the world.  His recent engagements include recitals in Berlin, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Sydney; performances with the Czech, London, Los Angeles, and New York Philharmonics, the Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Toronto symphonies, the Cleveland, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Budapest Festival and Russian National Orchestras; and a performance televised worldwide with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle.  He is also a regular guest at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Aspen, Blossom, Edinburgh, Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Salzburg, Tanglewood, and the BBC Proms, where he has made over 20 appearances and performed the complete Tchaikovsky concertos over four programs, a series he later performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall.

The British classical label Hyperion Records will release two new albums by Mr. Hough this season. The first, titled Stephen Hough’s French Album, features works for solo piano by Fauré, Ravel, Debussy, Poulenc as well as Mr. Hough’s own arrangement of works by Massenet and Delibes. Part of an ongoing exploration of Central European piano concertos, Mr. Hough’s second album features Brahms’ Piano Concertos, Nos. 1 and 2 recorded with Mark Wigglesworth and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra. Throughout the months of October and November London’s Broadbent Gallery will present an exhibition of Mr. Hough’s paintings. The exhibit, titled Appassionato, will be the first display of Mr. Hough’s artwork featuring fifteen abstract paintings in acrylic dating from 2007 to the present day.

A Hyperion recording artist, many of Mr. Hough’s catalogue of over 50 albums have garnered international prizes including the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or, Monde de la Musique, several Grammy nominations, and eight Gramophone Magazine Awards including ‘Record of the Year’ in 1996 and 2003, and the Gramophone ‘Gold Disc’ Award in 2008, which named his complete Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos as the best recording of the past 30 years.  His 2005 live recording of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos became the fastest selling recording in Hyperion’s history, while his 1987 recording of the Hummel concertos remains Chandos’ best-selling disc to date.  His most recent releases are the piano concertos of Grieg and Liszt with Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (2011), Broken Branches: Compositions by Stephen Hough (2011), and The Prince Consort: Other Love Songs released in 2011 by Linn Records featuring new compositions by Mr. Hough, an album that BBC Music Magazine called “a new song cycle of outstanding achievement.”  His recording of the complete Chopin Waltzes was named winner of Diapason d’Or de l’Année 2011.

Mr. Hough’s compositions include chamber, choral, symphonic, instrumental and solo piano works. In April 2012 conductor Nicholas McGegan led the Indianapolis Symphony and Chorus in the first performance of the orchestrated version of Mr. Hough’s Missa Mirabilis, a work originally written for London’s Westminster Cathedral Choir. His Mass of Innocence and Experience was premiered by the Westminster Abbey Choir at a concert commemorating the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake.  Mr. Hough’s cello concerto The Loneliest Wilderness was premiered by Steven Isserlis and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in 2007. His trio, Was mit den Tranen geschieht, commissioned by members of the Berlin Philharmonic, received its world premiere at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2009. A string sextet, Requiem Aeternum: after Victoria, was commissioned by the National Gallery for their major autumn 2009 exhibition, The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700. Mr. Hough’s compositions are published by Josef Weinberger Ltd.

In addition Mr. Hough is an avid writer. He has written for London’s The Guardian, The Times, and was invited by the Telegraph Media Group in December 2008 to write a cultural blog that receives ten to 15 thousand hits every week.  He has written extensively about theology, resulting in The Bible as Prayer, published by Continuum and Paulist Press in 2007.  The book is a handbook for Lectio Divina with a compilation of Scripture verses to be used for meditation.  Currently a resident of London, Mr. Hough is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester.  He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List.

by Jean Baptiste Millot

Steven Isserlis by Jean Baptiste Millot

Acclaimed worldwide for his technique and musicianship, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician and educator.

‘The music world – and music itself – is infinitely richer for the presence of Steven Isserlis.’ Gramophone Magazine

Highlights of recent seasons have included concerto performances with the Berlin Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Washington National Symphony with Iván Fischer, the Philharmonia Orchestra with Vladimir Ashkenazy, and a European tour with the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and Philippe Herreweghe; an all-Haydn play-direct project with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall with Thomas Adès and Olli Mustonen; chamber music concerts at the Salzburg Festival, Carnegie Hall, BBC Proms and Aldeburgh Festival with collaborators including Joshua Bell, Thomas Adès, Jörg Widmann, Emily Beynon, Anthony Marwood and Denes Várjon; recitals in Washington, San Francisco, Vancouver and Milan; an Australian recital tour with Denes Várjon; and a series of concerts specially devised for the 2010 Cheltenham Festival to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Schumann’s birth.

Steven Isserlis takes a strong interest in authentic performance and has played with many of the foremost period instrument orchestras including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with Simon Rattle, and Philharmonia Baroque with Nicholas McGegan. He is also a keen exponent of contemporary music, and has worked with many composers on new commissions since giving the world premiere of John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil at the BBC Proms in 1989. In 2006 he gave the world première of Wolfgang Rihm’s Cello Concerto at the Salzburg Festival, and at the 2009 Aldeburgh Festival he premiered Thomas Adès’s work for cello and piano, Lieux retrouvés, together with the composer.

Writing and playing for children is another major interest. Steven Isserlis’s books for children about the lives of the great composers – Why Beethoven Threw the Stew and its sequel, Why Handel Waggled his Wig – are published by Faber and Faber, and both books have been translated into many languages. He has recorded a CD for BIS with Stephen Hough titled Children’s Cello, and with composer Anne Dudley he has written three musical stories for children which are published by Universal Edition. As an educator, Steven Isserlis gives frequent masterclasses all around the world, and for the past thirteen years he has been Artistic Director of the International Musicians’ Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall.

With an award-winning discography, Steven Isserlis’s recordings reflect his diverse interests in repertoire. His recording of the complete Solo Cello Suites by Bach for Hyperion met with the highest critical acclaim, and was Gramophone magazine’s Instrumental Disc of the Year and Critic’s Choice at the Classical Brits. Other recent releases include an all-Schumann disc for Hyperion with Denes Várjon, and a recording of works for cello and chamber orchestra titled reVisions, for BIS.

The recipient of many honors, Steven Isserlis was awarded a CBE in 1998 in recognition of his services to music, and in 2000 he received the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau.

Steven Isserlis plays the Marquis de Corberon (Nelsova) Stradivarius of 1726, kindly loaned to him by the Royal Academy of Music.