If, as Liszt himself dubbed it, ‘Hexaméron’ is ‘a monster’, it’s a monster which certainly holds no terrors for Marc-André Hamelin, and the encounter between them makes for some thrilling pianism. The remainder of the recital—high-octane transformations of nineteenth-century operatic favourites—is every bit as electrifying, from a musician who never ceases to astonish whatever the repertoire.
If I were allowed a two-word review of this disc, it would read as follows: buy it. He conjures up a rich palette of tonal colours throughout, but to particularly bewitching effect in the two Thalberg fantasies. The execution is so incredibly neat and well ordered, and yet sounds completely spontaneous, like an inspired improvisation. This is a master pianist at the height of his powers.
Hexaméron inflicts tremendous demands beyond compare on the performer, not only for its highly technical gestures, but mostly for the risk that it may fall off the rails. Not only does Marc-André Hamelin merge its disparate styles seamlessly into one, but he also brings out the work's basic Italianate operatic flavor by focusing our attention on the melody at all times. Is there anything this pianist cannot do? A feast for the ears, from start to finish, for all piano enthusiasts. Highly recommended!
– Classical Music Sentinel (Jean-Yves Duperron)
The virtuosity required by these five Romantic items is well supplied by Hamelin, who invests it with his own dedicated poetry.
– Sunday Times (UK)