CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Renowned pianist Ian Hobson will perform all of Brahms’ solo and chamber music for piano in a series of 16 recitals at the University of Illinois beginning Wednesday (Sept. 19). Hobson, who has appeared as guest soloist with major orchestras around the world, recently performed the complete piano works of Schumann, and recorded the complete piano works of Chopin. Tackling their younger contemporary, Hobson said, is “a natural outgrowth.”
“Brahms was a disciple of Schumann, and he loved Chopin, so it’s all in the same category,” Hobson said.
The difference is that Brahms is acclaimed not only for his piano pieces but also for his chamber music, providing the opportunity for Hobson to collaborate with more than a dozen colleagues, including violinists Andres Cardenes and Stefan Milenkovich; the entire U. of I. piano faculty; Hobson’s ex-wife Claude Edrei Hobson; and the Jupiter Quartet, the U. of I.’s new quartet in residence, who will be making their Krannert Center for the Performing Arts debut in the first recital of the series.
The Jupiter quartet will join Hobson for a work not composed by Brahms – Dvorak’s Quintet for Piano and Strings, chosen in place of the Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, which is already scheduled to be performed by another group on Krannert’s calendar. (Hobson will perform another version of this work, Piano Sonata in F minor for Two Pianos, on Oct. 27, with Illinois music professor Timothy Ehlen.) However, Hobson said the Dvorak fits his series nicely. “It is appropriate because of the enormous respect that Brahms and Dvorak had for each other,” he said.
On the same program, Hobson will play Brahms’ Waltzes for Piano, Four Hands with Illinois professor Rochelle Sennet, and Sonata No. 1 in C major, the first composition Brahms published – though not the first work he composed.
“Brahms was such a perfectionist that he destroyed a lot of stuff that was never published. So this sonata that he came up with as his Opus 1 is a pretty sophisticated piece, and it kind of gives you presage of his later work,” Hobson said. “Having conducted all the Brahms symphonies, having played all the chamber music, I can see what genius is lurking there in his first piece for piano, and I have a much better idea of how to play it.”
Hobson is the music director of Sinfonia da Camera, the university’s professional chamber orchestra, and emeritus Center for Advanced Study and Swanlund Professor of Music. Despite “retirement,” he maintains a rigorous performance schedule and said he enjoys immersing himself in the works of certain composers.
“I have found that looking into the dark corners of the repertoire of these people has given me a fantastic perspective on their work, and always leads to discoveries,” he said.
He will play Brahms’ solo piano works in chronological order, beginning with Op. 1 and ending April 26 with Op. 119. He will intersperse the piano trios through the fall semester, and the piano quartets through the spring semester. The first and final concerts will take place at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana; all others will be at Smith Memorial Hall, 805 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at krannertcenter.com, the Krannert Center box office, or at the door at Smith Hall. Tickets for either the fall portion or the spring portion are $60 ($30 for students), and single tickets are $10 ($5 for students).
Waltzes for Piano, Four Hands, with Rochelle Sennet
Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 1
Quintet for Piano and Strings, by Dvorak
At Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 2
Piano Trio No. 1 in B major for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 8, with Stefan Milenkovich (violin) and Daniel McDonough (cello)
Scherzo in E flat minor, Op. 4
Sonata in F minor for Piano and Viola, Op. 120, with Csaba Erdelyi (viola)
Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op 5.
Sixteen Variations for Piano on a Theme by Schumann, Op. 9
Sonata in F minor for Two Pianos, Op. 34, with Timothy Ehlen
Variations for Piano on an Original Theme, Op. 21, No. 1
Variations for Piano on a Hungarian Theme, Op. 21, No. 2
Variations for Two Pianos on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56, with William Heiles
Four Ballades for Piano, Op. 10
Sonatensatz for Violin and Piano, with Andres Cardenes
Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78, with Cardenes
Piano Trio No. 2 in C major for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 87, with Cardenes and Denise Djokic (cello)
Variations and Fugue for Piano on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24
Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 101, with Cardenes and Djokic
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E flat major, Op. 120 No. 2, with J. David Harris (clarinet)
Variations for Piano Four Hands on a Theme by Schumann, Op. 23, with Claude Edrei Hobson
Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Books 1 and 2, Op. 35
Zigeunerlieder arranged for piano, four hands, with Samir Golescu
Transcriptions of works by Brahms, Schubert, Chopin, Weber, Gluck and Bach
Sonata in D major, Op. 78 (arranged for viola and piano from Brahms’ cello arrangement of Brahms by Erdelyi), with Erdelyi
Eight Piano Pieces, Op. 76
Two Rhapsodies for Piano, Op. 79
Three Intermezzi for Piano, Op. 117
Trio in E flat major for Horn, Violin and Piano, Op. 40, with Bernhard Scully (French horn) and Cardenes
Sonata in A major, Op 100 for Violin and Piano, with Cardenes
Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 26, with Cardenes, Erdelyi
Seven Fantasies for Piano, Op. 116
Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118
Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108, with Cardenes
Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60, with Cardenes, Erdelyi
Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 114, with Harris and Dmitry Kouzov (cello)
Sonata No. 1 in E minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 38, with Kouzov
Sonata No. 2 in F major for Cello and Piano, Op. 99, with Kouzov
Four Piano Pieces, Op. 119