“Here is a cunning and potent mix of every conceivable form of pianistic and musical intricacy (it excludes the merely decorative, salon or ephemeral). Everything is of the most absorbing interest; everything is impeccably per- formed. Hamelin's richly inclusive programme ranges from Godowsky's Toccata, music of the most wicked, labyrinthine complexity, to three of his own projected cycle of 12 Etudes, among them a ferociously witty and demanding Prelude and Fugue and a reworking of Chopin's Op 10 No-5, full of black thoughts as well as black notes. Then there's Alkan's sinister absorption of the Andante from Haydn's Surprise Symphony (loyal to Haydn, Alkan's teasing perversity also makes such music peculiarly his own); a Berceuse by Samuel Feinberg that prompts Francis Pott, in his brilliantly illuminating notes, to question what sort of child would be lulled by such strangeness; some superb Medtner and Scriabin and a cloudy, profoundly expressive Fantasiaafter J. S. Bach by Busoni.
Clearly among the most remarkable pianists of our time, Hamelin makes light of every technical and musical difficulty, easing his way through Godowsky's intricacy with yards to spare, registering every sly modulation of Alkan's 'Le premier billet-doux' and generating a white-hot intensity in Rachmaninov's admirably revised version of his Second Moment musical.
Here, Hamelin's maintenance of a 'line' set within a hectically whirling complexity is something to marvel at. Taut, sinewy and impassioned, this performance is a worthy successor to Rachmaninov's own legendary disc. Every phrase and note is coolly appraised within its overall context and the results are audacious and immaculate as required. Hyperion's sound is superb.”