Notes and Editorial Reviews
Marc-André Hamelin's works celebrate the great Western tradition of composer/pianists, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Those who know the piano repertoire well (and no one knows it as well as Hamelin does) will find countless delights here, such as the fourth etude, in which the finale of Alkan's Symphony for piano solo rubs shoulders with the same composer's Aesop's Feast. Or consider the first etude, a confabulation of three Chopin etudes in the manner of Godowsky's crazy studies.
Most of your keyboard favorites show up at some point: aside from Chopin, there's Liszt, Scarlatti, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Beethoven, the folk song "Ah, vous dirais-je
maman", and God knows what else, all filtered through the prismatic lens of Hamelin's irrepressible sense of humor, transcendent virtuosity, and yes, compositional genius.
The remainder of the program reveals Hamelin's more lyrical side, though the finale of Con intimissimo sentimento, "Berceuse (in tempore belli)" (Lullaby in a time of war), reveals a fondness for quirky titles worthy of Satie. The Little Nocturne is a gem, and the Variations, a genuinely touching love poem to Hamelin's fiancée, shows that his gift as a composer is not limited merely to writing music of atrocious technical difficulty.
It goes without saying that the performances present the music optimally in all respects, and completely disarm criticism. Two of the etudes were recorded previously, but there is no sonic disparity between these earlier tracks and the more recent ones: the engineering is uniformly superb. Let's just hope that Hamelin's music finds a home under the fingers of other pianists as well; it deserves the attention. Don't miss this. [10/1/2010]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Featured Sound Samples
Etudes in All the Minor Keys: No 4 in C minor
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