Hough in recordings vs Hough in recitals

I love so many of his recordings (Hummel Concertos, Liszt/Grieg Concertos, Chopin Waltzes, Scriabin/Janacek, Liszt Annees de Pelerinage-Suisse, I could go on…) but the two times I’ve been to his recitals, I was left uninspired. What gives?

My impression/opinion is that he fell through a bit around ca 2001/2002 (ever heard that before?), and especially his live playing just isn’t as good anymore post-2001 as pre-2002. I think there’s less difference in his studio recordings however, and even live he still has his bright spots. I love his Carnegie 2009 recital for instance, and I heard him do a remarkable Hummel concerto in 2013 somewhere too.

Either way, definitely one of my all time favorite pianists (if maybe not a top-10).

I heard him live once, can’t remember which year exactly but it might’ve been around 2009?
His playing didn’t make much of an impression on me.
I haven’t listened to many of his recordings either but I’ll have to get on it.

Try his early Virgin CDs if you’re not familiar with them already. Both the “Piano Album” and his Liszt set (both 2 CDs) are excellent IMO.

I don’t quite understand what you mean by fell through?

My take is that he’s more of a charmer than someone who grabs you like a whirlwind with the force of his/her personality. His playing is all in the subtle voicings, nuances, melodic inflections that come through on recordings but which are lost in the hall.

I heard him do Mendy 1 live and I actually thought the best part was the slow mov. Heard him do solo recital of Scrib zons, Pimp zon and his own zon, didn’t leave a huge impression.
Normally, I find his facility amazing, but somehow leaves me a bit meh in the serious works…However I do like his salon stuff.

Yeah, this is definitely so. As with most pianists I guess he has his niche of the repertoire, and it’s not Bach’s French Overture. I wouldn’t call him just a salon pianist or miniaturist however… even though that might be where he shines the most. His Rhapsodie Espagnole for instance is my reference in the work, and I thought he did wonders with the Scharwenka PC etc too.

I thought he dropped in quality. Before ca 2002 he had impeccable fingers, excellent timing, an extraordinary sense for character and phrasing, etc. After 2001 or thereabouts the technique, sound, phrasing, characterizations - everything became a bit more coarse. I think he took a step in Kissin’s direction as it were.

His recordings are still remarkable, at least many of them, however. I was listening it his Scriabin 4th and was intoxicated the potency of his playing.

On the subject of Kissin, I think he’s gone through different phases. His last Beethoven CD is outstanding. I’m going to here him live for the first time in May of next year in a program of the Hammerklavier and a selection of Rach preludes. Hopefully he’ll fully convince me.

The Hammerklavier he played at Verbier this summer was fantastic.
I’m not actually sure what programme I’m seeing him in, should probably check.

I think he’s playing the Hammerklavier/Rachy thing until July or somewhere there, so if it’s this season that’ll probably be it. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to my next encounter with him as well. Which won’t be before 2019 as it looks however. :frowning:

Why is everyone playing Hammerklavier nowadays

Saw hough livein Rach Paganini a while back. It was terrific but it’s one of those pieces that seems to come off well no matter what… he had a bigger sound than I expected.

The Secret Piano Society doth decree it.

I checked, he’s playing the Beethoven/Rachmaninoff programme for the entire season without any variation (don’t know how he doesn’t get bored with it), so that’s what I’ll catch him in next month.
My recording won’t be great anyway, I’m in a lousy spot.