Bucket Liszt – Part II

Hough-a-gramWhile many patrons occupied themselves with slamming wine and sneaking cigarettes during Monday night’s intermission, the Oregon Symphony roadies were busy positioning a gorgeously sleek 9-foot-long Steinway onto the Schnitzer stage, prepping for the imminent performance of Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto #2. After triumphantly tackling the same composer’s first piano concerto back in 2010 with our band, the returning soloist on deck was Stephen Hough: a 21st-century Renaissance man recognized the world over as a veritable keyboard ninja. [sigh] Gliding into view from stage right wearing his customary all-black Asian-style shirt, Mr. Hough greeted the applause and sat attentively at the bench, ready and willing to open up a can of pianoforte whoop-ass for us lucky souls in the crowd. Liszt’s composition begins slyly with a languid woodwind entrance and reveals itself rather mysteriously over the course of 22 brilliant minutes, alternating its character often with romantically sensuous interludes sandwiched between flashes of raging intensity. Surprising no one, @houghhough displayed an unbelievable array of technical marvels throughout with his miraculous foot-long fingers, slamming out some muddled goulash in the piano’s low register one moment, caressing the upper ivories like an attentive lover in the next, and bringing the piece to a playful climax with four (!) double-handed glissandi. [sigh] And as if Mr. Hough needed to seduce us further, the already-quivering audience was treated to an arrangement of *this beautiful song as an encore. Dear. God. Along with the concert halls, chocolate shops, and haberdasheries of Stumplandia, the classical beaver is hoping it won’t have to wait too, too long for the next return visit from this remarkable human being. [sigh]

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