NEW YORK, NEW YORK (JANUARY 4, 2023) — Sir Stephen Hough’s second all-Mompou album, Música callada, will be released February 3 on Hyperion Records. Covering the entire four-volume series of Música callada, composed and published between 1959-67, the album is Sir Stephen’s return to Mompou after 1998’s Gramophone Award-winning Piano Music by Federico Mompou. Música callada continues Hough’s lifelong exploration of Mompou’s music –– “I knew Mompou before I knew Mozart,” he wrote in the liner notes for his 2018 release Dream Album. Música callada is available for pre-order on Amazon.
In his 2019 essay collection Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More, Sir Stephen wrote of Mompou:
The music of Federico Mompou is the music of evaporation. The printed page seems to have faded, as if the bar lines, time signatures, key signatures, and even the notes themselves have disappeared over a timeless number of years. There is no development of material, little counterpoint, no drama nor climaxes to speak of; and this simplicity of expression – elusive, evasive and shy – is strangely disarming. There is nowhere for the sophisticate to hide with Mompou. We are in a glasshouse, and the resulting transparency is unnerving, for it creates a reflection in which our face and soul can be seen.
It’s a description especially apt for Música callada, considered by Mompou to be his masterpiece. Música callada’s pieces are brief in and of themselves, ranging in length from less than a minute to over four, but the total work is a substantial seventy minutes. The contradictory interplay between brevity and weight is central to Música callada; borrowing its title from a poem by the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross, Música callada examines the paradox inherent in the idea of “silent music.” As Mompou described, Música callada is meant as a spiritual piece with an aim “to reach the profound depths of our soul and the hidden domains of the vital force of our spirits. This music is silent as if heard from within.” It was also, fittingly, the last music he published in his lifetime.
Música callada was recorded during the 2020 lockdown in London. Previous critically acclaimed “lockdown” recordings by Hough are the Diapason d’Or-winning Schumann: Arabeske, Kreisleriana & Fantasie (September 2021), Chopin Nocturnes (November 2021), and Schubert: Piano Sonatas D664, 769a & 894 (March 2022).
Sir Stephen’s recitals this season include Mompou’s Cants magics, which he performs in the U.S. this season at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC on March 21, in Miami on March 28, at 92NY in New York on Mar 30, at Spivey Hall in Atlanta on April 1, and in Athens, GA on April 2. His newest book, a memoir, Enough: Scenes From Childhood will be released in the U.S. on April 11 through Faber & Faber and is available for pre-order here.
One of the most distinctive artists of his generation, Sir Stephen Hough combines a distinguished career as a pianist with those of composer and writer. Named by The Economist as one of Twenty Living Polymaths, Sir Stephen was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (2001). In 2014 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2022. Since taking first prize at the 1983 Naumburg Competition in New York, Sir Stephen has appeared with most of the major European, Asian and American orchestras and plays recitals regularly in major halls and concert series around the world.
His recordings have garnered international prizes including the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or, Monde de la Musique, several Grammy nominations, and eight Gramophone Magazine Awards including the 1996 and 2003 “Record of the Year” Awards and the 2008 “Gold Disc” Award. Sir Stephen has composed music for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, and solo piano, and his compositions are published by Josef Weinberger, Ltd. o. He has been commissioned by the Takacs Quartet, the Cliburn, the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, the Gilmore Foundation, and Wigmore Hall among others. He is also an avid painter whose work has been exhibited at the Broadbent Gallery in London.
A noted writer, Sir Stephen has contributed articles for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times, Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine, and The Telegraph. He has published three books to date: The Bible as Prayer (Bloomsbury and Paulist Press, 2007); a novel: The Final Retreat (Sylph Editions, 2018); and a book of essays: Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More (Faber & Faber and Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019). His upcoming book Enough: Scenes From Childhood will be published by Faber & Faber to be released on April 11.
Sir Stephen resides in London where he is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester. He is also a member of the faculty at The Juilliard School. To learn more about Sir Stephen Hough, visit stephenhough.com and follow him at @houghhough on Twitter and Facebook.