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Marc-Andre Hamelin

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Feldman, M: For Bunita Marcus

Feldman, M: For Bunita Marcus


‘I have no problem with notes … none at all’, was Feldman’s cryptic comment on For Bunita Marcus. Throughout the seventy-two-minute duration of this extraordinary work, notes coalesce into wisps of melody which drift softly in and out of an immense silence. You are indeed, as Marc-André Hamelin writes, ‘about to enter a world unlike any other’.

“Hamelin, known for his extraordinary virtuosity, here presents not so much the exact opposite of this but a world that complements it: slow, minimalist, yet strangely evocative and expressive...Simple though the music sounds, Hamelin's touch of the keyboard plays its role, each note like a separate pebble gently dropped into a pool and sending out ripples.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2017 *****

“a perfect and, at around 80 minutes, a relatively concise introduction to the timeless, pared-down world of late Feldman...Hamelin presents that world of microscopic nuances with immaculate care...everything in Hamelin’s performance seems part of a natural, inevitable unfolding, and the Hyperion recording perfectly catches all its details.” The Guardian, 27th July 2017 ****

“What Hamelin has in his favour is an unwavering focus on the dense weave of Feldman’s rhythmic grid, and a studio recording as softly tangible as fine silk. Do not, as they say, adjust your set. Rather, sit back and let the music adjust your head.” Pianist Magazine, August 2017 ****

“It’s a far cry from the virtuoso repertoire one associates with Hamelin to the glacial evacuatedness of late Feldman pieces such as this 73-minute unfolding...He realises this transfigured ritual with technical prowess surplus to requirements.” Sunday Times, 6th August 2017

“Hamelin is scrupulous over every isolated note hanging against a sky of silence, 70 minutes of stillness, a technical challenge of a special kind.” Financial Times, 4th August 2017 ***

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Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos

Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos


Medtner:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 50

Rachmaninov:

Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30


A typical release—in so far as there can ever be such a thing—from Marc-André Hamelin, combining a stimulating, unexpected coupling; brilliant new light shed on the familiar; and pianism of the very highest calibre. Not to be missed.

“Rachmaninov-lite [the Medtner] may be, but it is certainly worth investigating when played as well as this.” The Guardian, 22nd March 2017 ****

“…no pianist past or present understands Medtner's idiom better…Obviously in vastly superior sound, this is a recording which stands beside the composer's classic account.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2017

“Expectations are inevitably high as Marc-Andre Hamelin, who marries phenomenal technique with sensitive musicianship, joins Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonia Orchestra, now truly a world-class ensemble….Hamelin’s playing soon takes flight, and the Concerto works its charm, sparkling with virtuosity and – particularly in the finale – with wit. It also receives the most polished orchestral playing it has enjoyed on any recording.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ****

“Hamelin and Jurowski offer imposing but unsentimentalised Rachmaninov and persuasive advocacy for Medtner's Second Concerto, which appears to best advantage in this lean, rhythmically vital performance thanks to the unflagging momentum generated by soloist and conductor alike.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, April 2017

“Hamelin’s performance [of the Rachmaninov is] notable for its breadth and nobility…in the Medtner, the pianist surpasses alternative recordings by Demidenko and even by the composer himself, taking the composer’s outwardly discursive idiom by the scruff of the neck yet never at the expense of musical quality.” International Piano, July 2017 *****

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Franck: Piano Quintet & Debussy: String Quartet

Franck: Piano Quintet & Debussy: String Quartet


Debussy:

String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10

Franck, C:

Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 14

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)


Franck’s Piano Quintet and Debussy’s String Quartet make an apt and unusual coupling, each work its composer’s only, unsurpassable, contribution to the genre. Both receive authoritative performances from Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács Quartet.

“When the seasoned artistry of the Takács Quartet blends with the thoughtful brilliance of Marc-André Hamelin, a rare alchemy occurs...To Debussy’s luminous and under-appreciated String Quartet of 1893 the Takács bring all their intelligence, skill, taste and virtuosity.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“[The Franck has] the same big, romantic sound and emotional intensity of the violin sonata, beautifully brought out here by Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács in a stirring, virtuosic recording...there’s no questioning the Takács’s ability to play the Debussy String Quartet wonderfully. Something less corporeal, a little more elusive and vaporous, would have made it even better.” The Observer, 22nd May 2016 ***

“An exemplary performance” Financial Times, June 2016

“Highly charged and passionate performances. The Takács Quartet goes from strength to strength.” MusicWeb International, 19th July 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

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Leo Ornstein: Piano Quintet & String Quartet No. 2

Leo Ornstein: Piano Quintet & String Quartet No. 2


Ornstein:

Piano Quintet, Op. 92

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)

String Quartet No. 2, Op. 99


The young pianist-composer Leo Ornstein went from wowing the ladies with his virtuosity to writing a Violin Sonata in 1915 of such atonal violence that it frightened even him.

By the time of the two works recorded here his style was more rounded. The mix of enfant terrible and Lisztian piano-slayer is now tempered by an intense lyricism, the rhythmic energy balanced by searing poetry.

In the exhilarating hands of Marc-André Hamelin and the Pacifica Quartet these performances fizz with exuberance. A real treat.

“The American composer lived even longer than Elliott Carter, who esteemed him...The three-movement Piano Quintet and String Quartet No 2 are weighty, spirited utterances in a style hard to seize as Ornsteinian, but worth attention, especially when performed with such panache.” Sunday Times, 30th August 2015

“Forcefully rhythmic passages built from repeating patterns alternate with sweeping, rhapsodic paragraphs; the Quintet especially is full of eastern harmonic inflections. Pianist Marc-André Hamelin and the Pacifica Quartet are whole-hearted advocates, though even they can’t disguise the fact that Ornstein’s obsessive treatment of small blocks of musical material becomes monotonous in both works.” The Guardian, 9th September 2015

“The Pacifica Quartet have more chance to show their mettle in the less extravagant Second String Quartet…both pieces are excellent examples of how far a composer can go on intuition, energy and talent alone.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“Ornstein goes for the jugular in the febrile outer movements, shot through with Russian folk material and rhythmic fire, but offers respite in the achingly tender Andante Lamentoso.” New York Times, 25th November 2015

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Mozart: Piano Sonatas

Mozart: Piano Sonatas


Mozart:

Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major, K576 'Hunt'

Piano Sonata No. 5 in G, K283

Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K332

Piano Sonata No. 17 in B flat major, K570

Rondo in D major, K485

Gigue in G Major, K574

Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K330

Piano Sonata No. 13 in B flat major, K333

Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K545 'Facile'

Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major K282

Rondo in A minor, K511

Fantasia in D minor, K397


Eight of Mozart’s divinely inspired Piano Sonatas here receive performances of mercurial inspiration from consummate-musician cum virtuoso-wizard Marc-André Hamelin. His four Haydn albums have enthralled—this new Mozart will not disappoint. Two Rondos, a Fantasia, and a decidedly quirky Gigue complete a delight of a double album.

“His extreme refinement of phrase and dynamics, his endlessly fresh approach to detail and breadth of line can be taken for granted: the first item, the late D major Sonata No. 18 has rarely burst off the page so full of vivacity and muscular energy....It's in slow movements...that a quality of alien sophistication...tends to interpose itself.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 ****

“Hamelin is never dull. He may not touch the heart through a perfect blend of control and insight, of pulse and flexibility, but his capacity for brilliance, for beauty of sound, and his flawless technical address can amount to pleasures in themselves.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

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Debussy: Images & Préludes II

Debussy: Images & Préludes II


Debussy:

Préludes - Book 2 (12, complete)

Images pour piano - Books 1 & 2


A new album from Marc-André Hamelin is always cause for celebration. Here in his first Debussy recording for Hyperion he presents the two books of Images: Debussy’s colouristic masterpiece, a bewitching compendium of ‘scents, colours and sounds’. Also recorded here is the second book of Préludes, in a poetic and evocative performance.

“Hamelin's stature, extraordinary from the start, increases with every new issue. And here in his latest album he subdues his legendary, transcendent technique to convey Debussy's very essence with a surpassing ease and naturalness....Hamelin's glistening sonority is flawlessly captured by the Hyperion team. This is a disc to treasure.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2014

“The hallmarks of Hamelin's style are always in evidence, and the clarity with which the polyphonic aspects of Reflets dans l'eau come through gives a sense of momentum rarely perceived in this piece. Indeed, it is the lack of impressionism in Hamelin's playing which guarantees the effectiveness of Debussy's impressionistic whimsies.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2014

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Schumann: Kinderszenen & Waldszenen & Janáček: On the overgrown path I

Schumann: Kinderszenen & Waldszenen & Janáček: On the overgrown path I


Janacek:

Along an Overgrown Path, JW VIII/17, Book 1

Schumann:

Waldszenen, Op. 82

Kinderszenen, Op. 15


Marc-André presents a fascinating juxtaposition of two composers who are not obviously musically related, but who are proved on this album to be a felicitous combination.

Schumann’s well-loved Kinderszenen (‘Scenes from childhood’) cycle is a masterpiece: each piece is as deftly and exquisitely crafted as anything in his more outwardly sophisticated mode. From the haunting beauty of the opening ‘From foreign lands and people’ (‘Von fremden Ländern und Menschen’), via the spare eloquence of the central ‘Dreaming’ (‘Träumerei’), to the quiet rhetoric of ‘The poet speaks’ (‘Der Dichter spricht’), the listener is taken through nuances of emotion whose effects are heartrendingly poignant.

Waldszenen (‘Forest scenes’) is another collection of miniatures, and Schumann’s last major cycle for solo piano. This deeply ‘Romantic’ work in the most psychological sense of the word is no objective foray into the woods, but a very personal reaction to an imagined landscape; and equally striking is the sense that each piece represents just a shard of a larger experience. On the whole it is the more bucolic aspect that Schumann explores, though these pieces are not without darker shadows. And while they may be technically fairly straightforward, their changeability calls for the quickest of reactions and a wealth of subtle nuance.

Over half a century separates Schumann’s nature-inspired Waldszenen from the first book of Janáček’s On the overgrown path. The subject matter is darker and more oblique and the piano writing is deceptively treacherous, many of the difficulties far from overt. The title of the overall cycle refers to a Moravian wedding song, the bride lamenting that ‘The path to my mother’s has become overgrown with clover’. The sequence of ten pieces that comprises Book 1 constitutes, as the scholar John Tyrrell has written, some of the ‘profoundest, most disturbing music that Janáček had written, their impact quite out of proportion to their modest means and ambition’.

“Time and again he makes you think vocally, of the range and flexibility of a great singer...the knife-edge between composer and interpreter, between creator and recreator is held in the finest balance.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2014

“Hamelin has already made several fine recordings of Schumann's piano music, focusing on big virtuoso pieces. He proves to be equally adept at exploring the more intimate side of the composer's character and the two Schumann cycles here are absolutely magical.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2014 *****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - June 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - July 2014

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Busoni: Late Piano Music

Busoni: Late Piano Music


Busoni:

Elegies, BV249

Nuit de Noël

Fantasia nach J S Bach

Canonic Variations and Fugue, BVB40

Giga, Bolero e Variazione (1909) from An die Jugend

Sonatina Seconda (1912)

Sonatina, BV257

Sonatina No. 3: ad usum infantis

Sonatina No. 5: in diem nativitatis Christi MCMXVII

Sonatina brevis 'in signo Joannis Sebastiani Magni' BV280

Sonatina No. 6 (Chamber Fantasy on Themes from Bizet's Carmen)

Indianisches Erntelied

Indianische Tagebuch, Book 1 (Indian Diary), K 267

Albumblätter, K289 - Berlin

Toccata 'Preludio, Fantasia, Ciaccona' BV287

Prologo, BV279

Klavierübung, 1925

Nine Variations on Chopin Prelude in C minor, Op. 22

Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing BV296

Perpetuum mobile

Prelude & Etude en arpeges


‘Hamelin mastered its rising and falling cascades of scales, biting rhythms and thunderous textures as though he was Busoni himself’ (The Birmingham News, USA)

Marc-André Hamelin is indisputably the king of Busoni pianists. He triumphantly masters the extraordinary technical difficulties and contrapuntal complexities this composer presents. This generously priced triple album offers most of Busoni’s mature works and the widest selection of pieces from the Klavierübung so far recorded, many of them for the first time.

(Studio Master: Please note that the recording of the Fantasia after J S Bach included here is taken from Marc-André Hamelin's 1998 album 'The Composer-Pianists' and has been up-sampled to 24-bit 96 kHz.)

“Hamelin handles all of this with great intelligence. There's a swagger when the music demands it, a fabulously refined sense of sonority and transparency when required. The technical challenges are surmounted so effortlessly that you begin to take the confidence of his playing for granted, when in fact it's a remarkable achievement.” The Guardian, 31st October 2013 ****

“Such strangeness demands rare skill and a special empathy for an idiom which for many will seem recondite and remote. And it is in this sense that Hamelin, playing with unfaltering lucidity and authority, achieves an astonishing triumph even by his exalted standards...although this is essentially an album for specialists, it is one that could never be bettered.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2013

“The [Christmas] gift I’d choose for myself would be Marc-André Hamelin’s magisterial three-disc survey of Busoni’s later piano music — elusive and haunting material from a pivotal figure of the modern age.” The Times, 13th December 2013

“Hamelin here makes a spirited case for the mature solo oeuvre – mostly short, technically demanding pieces...that raid the late-Romantic arsenal of swirling colours and sumptuous textures.” Financial Times, 28th December 2013 ***

“the performances...are all you could hope from a player of such quality, faced with repertoire he might have been born to interpret. This is playing of a very high order, such as...one seldom hears. Hamelin is well-nigh ideal in sensitivity of phrasing, clarity of tone and delineation of voices...A fabulous set, almost beyond praise.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2014 *****

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Instrumental

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Haydn: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 11

Haydn: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 11


Haydn:

Keyboard Concerto No. 11 in D major, HobXVIII:11

cadenzas by Wanda Landowska

Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in F major with French horns and strings, Hob.XVIII:3

cadenzas by Marc-André Hamelin

Keyboard Concerto No. 4 in G major, Hob.XVIII:4

cadenzas by Marc-André Hamelin


Marc-André Hamelin has proved himself—in three lauded volumes of Haydn’s piano sonatas—to be a formidable Haydn pianist, combining style, exuberance and dazzling technique with a palpable sense of joy in the music. Now he has recorded the composer’s three most popular concertos.

This release is the fruit of a partnership with the award-winning Canadian chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy and their director Bernard Labadie, whose previous recordings for Virgin Classics and other labels have received the highest critical acclaim.

“Hamelin and Les Violons du Roy play that gypsy finale [of the D major Concerto] with irresistable verve...If there's an incongruity between the sound of Hamelin's modern piano and that of the period-band that accompanies him, it's one that's easy to get used to...it's hard not to enjoy Hamelin's showmanship and the eloquence of his slow movements is an added bonus.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2013 ****

“Hamelin’s songful legato in the F major’s largo cantabile and bravura in the presto finales make the strongest possible cases for these works, and I don’t know a more exhilarating account of the D major — but it ought to be the disc’s climax.” Sunday Times, 21st April 2013

“ Hamelin could probably hum these concertos into a battered plastic kazoo and they’d still sound great. Everything works. There’s the requisite dynamism and energy, coupled with a superhuman lightness of touch...Hyperion’s sound is beyond reproach. Another entry in my provisional "Best of 2013" list.” The Arts Desk, 27th April 2013

“[in the F major] Hamelin weaves an enchanting spell, approaching an almost Mozartian pathos...[in the finale of the D major] he pushes forward without dropping the tempo, heightening the delirium of this whirling gypsy dance. Add to that some unmarked col legno earlier in the same movement for an authentic touch of Hungarian paprika and the result cannot fail to raise a smile.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2013

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Haydn - Piano Sonatas Volume 3

Haydn - Piano Sonatas Volume 3


Haydn:

Piano Sonata No. 13 in G major, Hob.XVI:6

Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, Hob.XVI:1

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B flat major, Hob.XVI:2

Piano Sonata No. 32 in G minor, Hob.XVI:44

Piano Sonata No. 40 in E flat major, Hob.XVI:25

Piano Sonata No. 33 in C minor, Hob.XVI:20

Piano Sonata No. 49 in C sharp minor, Hob.XVI:36

Piano Sonata No. 37 in E major, Hob.XVI:22

Piano Sonata No. 44 in F major, Hob.XVI:29

Piano Sonata No. 61 in D major, Hob.XVI:51

Piano Sonata No. 19 in E minor, Hob.deest


Hyperion’s Record of the Month is the third double-volume release in Marc-André Hamelin’s much-praised series of Haydn’s keyboard sonatas. Haydn wrote around sixty keyboard sonatas and this selection of eleven focuses on those from the 1770s, including the great C minor sonata from the composer’s ‘Sturm und Drang’ period, with its dynamic contrasts and virtuoso demands. These are bookended by three from Haydn’s earliest output from the 1750s, most likely penned for his young female pupils to play, and the D major sonata written during the second of the mature composer’s triumphant London visits in 1794.

In all these fascinating, idiosyncratic works, Marc-André Hamelin wears his renowned virtuosity lightly, while playing with understated wit and the elegant, immaculate musicianship that has come to define one of the greatest pianists of our time.

“the playing is outstanding for its crystalline tone, springy rhythms, lively tempos and integral handling of ornamentation...Hamelin is often at his most brilliant where Haydn is at his most eccentric” BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 ****

“The most immediately striking feature of the set is the unfailingly superb, crystalline clarity of Hamelin's sound...Here no detail is obscured and, with the exception of certain legato ligatures that Hamelin consistently chooses not to observe, articulation is within the realm of what Haydn's notation suggests...There is a certain stylistic cohesion to all these performances: everything is unmistakeably stamped 'Hamelin's Haydn'.” International Record Review, June 2012

“the majority of the sonatas, with their volte-face humour and open-hearted delight in the unexpected, reflect a joy in compositional wizardry. Such qualities are dazzlingly articulated by Hamelin, with one performance after another of crystalline brilliance and musicianship...These are magnificent performances and clearly a prime love for Hamelin.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

“Hamelin’s fluency amazes but is never ostentatious...Slow movements are delicately coloured, and there’s never a hint of indulgence. Hamelin lets Haydn do the talking.” The Arts Desk, 28th July 2012

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Instrumental

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Hyperion Marc-André Hamelin Haydn Piano Sonatas - CDA67882

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