“'Crossover' is an old rather than recent tradition, whether the jazz elements are peripheral as in Ravel or central as in Kapustin. Jed Distler, writing for Hamelin's disc in a style as witty and engaging as the music itself, speaks of a Chick Corea-based language that lifts a romantic virtuoso tradition into a beguiling quasi-improvisational style and holds it up to a fun-house mirror. Such high-pitched claims arguably fail to account for too many family likenesses (be they variations, studies or sonatas) or a style that too often suggests composition as a facile rather than arduous process (like Saint-Saëns, Kapustin 'produces music as an apple-tree produces apples'). Nonetheless, there are many scintillating surprises. The Variations' gawky theme blossoms into the sort of elaboration that would have made Bill Evans envious, while the second of the Op 40 Etudes ends with a passing memory of Liszt's Au bord d'une source, reminding you of Kapustin's work as a virtuoso pianist with Alexander Goldenweiser. No 6, Pastoral, a dream encore, sends a tiny cell-like motif spinning through a variety of guises. The Bagatelle's perky tune would not be out of place 'in a Brazilian Chorino' (Distler) and everything on this remarkable disc is played with a nonchalant aplomb and magical dexterity hard to imagine from any other pianist. Hamelin is in his element, and he's been immaculately recorded.”
“Everything on this remarkable disc is played with a nonchalant aplomb and magical dexterity hard to imagine from any other pianist”
“…Kapustin's… a Russian (b1937) who's had the bright idea of combining classical forms with a jazz idiom. …the music is full of virtuosity which Marc-André Hamelin handles effortlessly. He also turns in some tight jazz timing - sometimes it's surprising to learn that he isn't improvising, but then you realise that it's all perhaps just too perfect.”
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