STEPHEN HOUGH’S STRING QUARTET NO. 1 (“LES SIX RENCONTRES”) TO BE PREMIERED BY TAKÁCS QUARTET IN WEST-COAST AND LONDON PERFORMANCES, DECEMBER 8 – FEBRUARY 24

Performances to be presented by Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa, CA); University of Colorado, Boulder; Wigmore Hall (London); Off the Hook Arts (Fort Collins, CO); Cal Performances (Berkeley, CA); Vancouver Friends of Chamber Music; and Chamber Music in Napa Valley

Programs in Berkeley, Vancouver, and Napa also feature Mr. Hough
as pianist in Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81

Left: Stephen Hough; Right: Takács Quartet (Edward Dusinberre, violin; 
Harumi Rhodes, violin; Richard O’Neill, viola; András Fejér, cello)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (November 29, 2021) — World-renowned as a pianist, and now increasingly recognized as a composer as well, Stephen Hough was recently commissioned to compose his first string quartet, subtitled “Les Six Rencontres,” which is premiered by the Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet this winter. The work, which is also scheduled to be recorded by the Takács for Hyperion Records, is featured on a variety of the ensemble’s upcoming programs, including three in which Mr. Hough also performs with the ensemble in Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81. “Les Six Rencontres,” in six movements, was commissioned by Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting, Chamber Music patrons of Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where the world premiere takes place on Wednesday, December 8 at 8:00 p.m. The European premiere takes place at London’s Wigmore Hall on Thursday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Additional performances of “Les Six Rencontres” take place throughout January and February. Mr. Hough joins the Takács Quartet for their programs presented by Cal Performances at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall on Sunday, February 20 at 3:00 p.m.; Friends of Chamber Music at The Vancouver Playhouse on Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. (Canadian premiere); and Chamber Music in Napa Valley on Thursday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m. Performances of “Les Six Rencontres” are also presented by the University of Colorado, Boulder, on Sunday, January 9 at 4:00 p.m. and Monday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m., and by Off the Hook Arts in Fort Collins, CO, on Sunday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Hough composed the new work at the invitation of the Takács Quartet, who were seeking a companion piece for a planned recording of the quartets of Ravel and Dutilleux. In his program notes, Mr. Hough says:

“It was a thrilling if daunting challenge, and it gave me an immediate idea as I considered these two colossi who strode across the length of the 20th century—not so much what united their musical languages, but what was absent from them, not to mention the missing decades between the Ravel Quartet of 1903 and Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit from the mid-1970s.

He goes on to explain that, for this new quartet, he was drawn to the music and aesthetic of Les Six—the famous group of six French composers most active and associated with the interwar period—as a ‘missing link’ of sorts between Ravel and Dutilleux. Regarding the flavor of Les Six’ music, Mr. Hough says:

“It’s not so much a lack of seriousness, although seeing life through a burlesque lens is one recurring ingredient; rather it’s an aesthetic re-view of the world after the catastrophe of the Great War. Composers like Poulenc and Milhaud were able to discover poignance in the rough and tumble of daily human life in a way which escaped the fastidiousness of those other two composers.”

The work’s subtitle, “Les Six Rencontres,” is both a reference to Les Six and to the work’s six movements, each of which is conceived as a unique, imaged ‘encounter’ (rencontre) within the cultural zeitgeist represented by Les Six, though without any direct quotation or overt musical allusion.

Mr. Hough has composed works in most major genres, and additional highlights of his season as a composer include his own performances of a five-movement partita that he composed in 2019 on commission from the Naumburg Foundation. The work is part of his 2021–22 recital program, which he performs around the world, including in North America in CincinnatiTorontoMiamiNew Orleans, and at Caramoor.

Mr. Hough’s 2021–22 schedule—his 60th birthday season (November 22)—includes concerto performances with the Royal Concertgebouw OrchestraOrchestre National de France, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the Utah Symphony in November, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in January, Dallas Symphony Orchestra in February, and San Antonio Symphony in March.

An additional chamber performance by Mr. Hough and the Takács Quartet is presented by Santa Monica’s Maestro Foundation on February 26. Mr. Hough performs in Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81, while the Takács alone perform quartets by Haydn and Ravel.

ABOUT STEPHEN HOUGH

Over the course of his career, Stephen Hough has not only secured a reputation as an insightful pianist, but also as a writer and composer. In 2001, he was the first classical performing artist to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and, in 2013, he was named a Commander of the British Empire. On June 1, 2020, he re-opened Wigmore Hall, performing the U.K.’s first live classical music concert in a major venue since the nationwide lockdown in March. Later that summer he made his 29th appearance at the BBC Proms performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared with most of the major American and European 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. Mr. Hough has composed music for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble, and solo piano, and his compositions are published by Josef Weinberger, Ltd. He is also an avid painter whose work has been exhibited at the Broadbent Gallery in London.

A noted writer, Mr. Hough is the author of the recent essay collection Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More, published by Faber & Faber (U.K.) and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (U.S.) and named winner of the 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Award. He has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianThe Times (U.K.), Evening StandardThe TabletGramophone, and BBC Music Magazine. His novel, The Final Retreat, was published by Sylph Editions in 2018.

Mr. Hough resides in London and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and The Juilliard School in New York. He holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater, the Royal Northern College in Manchester.

To learn more about Stephen Hough, visit stephenhough.com and follow him at @houghhough on Twitter and Facebook.

ABOUT TAKÁCS QUARTET

The world-renowned and recent Gramophone Classical Music Award-winning Takács Quartet—Edward Dusinberre, Harumi Rhodes (violins), Richard O’Neill (viola), and András Fejér (cello)—is excited to bring to fruition several innovative projects for the 2021–22 season. With bandoneon/accordion virtuoso Julien Labro, the group will perform throughout the U.S. new works composed for them by Clarice Assad and Bryce Dessner.

The ensemble continues its role as Associate Artists at London’s Wigmore Hall, performing four concerts there this season. In addition to many U.K. concerts, the ensemble plays at the Paris Philharmonie, Berlin Konzerthaus, and Teatro Della Pergola, Florence, as well as in North America in New York, Boston, Washington DC, Princeton, Ann Arbor, Berkeley, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Portland.

The Takács, which records for Hyperion Records, won a 2021 Gramophone Classical Music Award for quintets by Amy Beach and Elgar with pianist Garrick Ohlsson. The CD also won Presto Classical’s Recording of the Year. Quartets by Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn were released in fall 2021, to be followed in May 2022 by Haydn’s opp. 42, 77, and 103.

Known for innovative programming, the ensemble performed a program inspired by Philip Roth’s Everyman with Meryl Streep at Princeton in 2014 and again with her at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music in 2015. They first performed Everyman at Carnegie Hall in 2007 with Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

Based in Boulder at the University of Colorado, Takács members are Christoffersen Faculty Fellows and helped develop a string program that emphasizes chamber music. Through the university, two Takács members benefit from the generous loan of instruments from the Drake Instrument Foundation. Ensemble members are on faculty at Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West, where they run a summer string quartet seminar, and are Visiting Fellows at the Guildhall School of Music, London.

Honors include the Wigmore Hall Medal (as the first string quartet to receive it), induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame, the Royal Philharmonic Society’s chamber music award, and—for their recordings—three Gramophone Awards, a Grammy Award, three Japanese Record Academy Awards, Disc of the Year at the inaugural BBC Music Magazine Awards, and Ensemble Album of the Year at the Classical Brits.

Learn more at takacsquartet.com.

# # #

TAKÁCS QUARTET PREMIERES STEPHEN HOUGH’S
STRING QUARTET NO. 1 (“LES SIX RENCONTRES”)

Wednesday, December 8 at 8:00 p.m.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts | Samueli Theater (Costa Mesa, CA)

Takács Quartet
     Edward Dusinberre, violin
     Harumi Rhodes, violin
     Richard O’Neill, viola
     András Fejér, cello

HAYDN: String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5
HOUGH: String Quartet No. 1 (“Les Six Rencontres”)* — world premiere
     I. Au boulevard
     II. Au parc
     III. A l’hôtel
     IV. Au théâtre
     V. A l’eglise
     VI. A la marché
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132

*A commission by Center Chamber Music patrons Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting

Learn more at scfta.org.

Sunday, January 9 at 4:00 p.m.
Monday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m.
CU Presents | University of Colorado, Boulder | Grusin Music Hall (Boulder, CO)

Takács Quartet
David Korevaar, piano

DVORÁK: String Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 51
HOUGH: String Quartet No. 1 (“Les Six Rencontres”)
SCHUMANN: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44

Learn more at cupresents.org.

Thursday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Wigmore Hall (London, England) 

Takács Quartet
Aleksandar Madžar, piano

RAVEL: String Quartet in F major
HOUGH: String Quartet No. 1 (“Les Six Rencontres”) — European premiere
SCHUMANN: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44

Learn more at wigmore-hall.org.uk.

Sunday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Off the Hook Arts | Grace Church (Fort Collins, CO)

Takács Quartet

HAYDN: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 76, No. 4 (“Sunrise”)
HOUGH: String Quartet No. 1 (“Les Six Rencontres”)
RAVEL: String Quartet in F major

Learn more at offthehookarts.org.

Sunday, February 20 at 3:00 p.m.
Cal Performances | Hertz Hall (Berkeley, CA) 

Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Friends of Chamber Music | The Vancouver Playhouse (Vancouver, BC)

Thursday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Chamber Music in Napa Valley | First United Methodist Church (Napa, CA)

Takács Quartet
Stephen Hough, piano

HAYDN: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 76, No. 4 (“Sunrise”)
HOUGH: String Quartet No. 1 (“Les Six Rencontres”)*
DVOŘÁK: Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81

*Vancouver performance marks Canadian premiere

Learn more at calperformances.orgfriendsofchambermusic.ca, and chambermusicnapa.org.