Notes and Editorial Reviews
Marc-André Hamelin (pn)
HYPERION CDA 67120 (73:29)
It?s not news, but it?s worth repeating: Hamelin?s technique is unsurpassed; and no pianist of comparable virtuosity has applied his or her skills with more tact and subtlety. This new release confirms his stature once again. True, you couldn?t reasonably call this the best Schumann collection in the catalog, if only because the
?best? doesn?t have any real meaning in that context. But you could reasonably call it perfect, in the specific sense (1) that Hamelin manages, without the slightest faltering, to do everything he wants to do and (2) that everything he wants to do makes sense as you?re listening, even if it?s not necessarily what you?d do if you were interpreting the piece.
Certainly, no one has more lucidly clarified Schumann?s textures, whether by voicing the chords (the opening of ?Grillen? is just one example) or by balancing the lines in the running passages. No one has treated Schumann to a wider (or wiser) range of articulation, either (try the dreamy simplicity of the legato in ?Eusebius? or the airy glitter of ?Lettres dansantes?). Nor has anyone extracted Schumann?s colors?whether in the ringing solidity of
?s ?Preámbule? or the prismatic wisps of some of the quieter passages of
or the dark anxiety of ?In der nacht.? Rhythms, while never steely, can have an invigorating spring, too?just as they can seduce with their grace (?Valse allemande?) or stretch out elegantly. And even in the busiest passages, each note sounds out cleanly: I don?t think I?ve ever heard such intelligibility in ?Pantalon.?
All this would, I think, be enough to make this CD an ear-opening exposition of the music?but above and beyond the unparalleled level of detail, there?s Hamelin?s musicality and his consistently alert imagination, which give each of the 40-odd character pieces on this CD a distinct and meaningful character, mapping out the music?s emotional shifts with a sureness that?s astonishing. True, on the whole the playing is somewhat Apollonian: there?s little trace of Richter?s volatility or Horowitz?s demonism. But Hamelin never sounds studied or calculated, much less fussy; while his playing tends to avoid the manic and the brash, it?s got a fresh spontaneity that?s engaging from first to last. The engineering is good, too, and the notes are first-rate. Highest recommendation.
FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
Works on This Recording
Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann
Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
Written: 1833-1835; Germany
Papillons, Op. 2 by Robert Schumann
Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
Written: 1829-1831; Germany
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