In a new solo album to be released on 6 November 2020, pianist Nicolas Hodges pairs Birtwistle with Beethoven in A Bag of Bagatelles on Wergo.
The disc was recorded in November 2019 in the presence of Sir Harrison Birtwistle himself; Hodges enjoys a close relationship with the composer, who described him as “becoming like my Peter Pears”. It includes the first recordings of three works by Sir Harrison Birtwistle and originally premiered by Hodges, including the witty Dance of the metro-gnome which sets the pianist against an impish metronome, and the virtuosic Gigue Machine of 2011, with its ceaseless warp and weft driven by a musical machine whose operation defies logic. Gigue Machine won the best Instrumental Solo BASCA British Composers Award in 2013.
Birtwistle’s Variations from the Golden Mountain, premiered by Hodges in 2014, features precipitous changes in mood and matter, like Beethoven’s Bagatelles, op. 126. Hodges sets Birtwistle against Beethoven in his 250th anniversary year, also recording his Fantasy op. 77 and Allegretto, WoO 61.
“his performance [of Beethoven’s Bagatelles op. 126] was engrossing… What we heard was an authoritative, assured and, at times, stunning rendition of the bagatelles that brought out their many contrasts.”– Classical Melbourne, September 2014
Nicolas Hodges returned to the stage in September, appearing at Strasbourg’s Festival Musica to perform Simon Steen-Andersen’s Piano Concerto with the Basel Sinfonietta and Baldur Bronnimann. On 14-16 October, Nicolas Hodges performs Steen-Andersen’s Piano Concerto with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Edward Gardner. 

On 20 October at Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal, Hodges is joined by Michael Wendeberg in Debussy, Ravel and Boulez’s Structures I & II for two Pianos, the two parts of a seminal work written over ten years that Boulez called “an experiment in what one might call Cartesian doubt.”

On 10 November, Hodges will perform Philippe Manoury’s Passacaille pour Tokyo (1994) in the Casa da Musica, Porto, with the Remix Ensemble.

Never shying away from challenging new writing, Nicolas Hodges continues to push the boundaries of modern piano music with bold and incisive performances. Hodges has long encouraged the creation of new contemporary repertoire for the piano. With an inexhaustible energy to communicate new music, Nicolas Hodges has commissioned over 25 piano concertos to date.
By choosing to maintain close collaborative relationships with contemporary composers, Hodges presents an extraordinary first-hand insight into the music of today. He has premiered works by Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Thomas Adès, and Elliott Carter, premiering Gerard Barry’s Piano Concerto in 2014.