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Hyperion Records

SACDA67550 - Brahms: Piano Concerto No 2
SACDA67550

Recording details: Various dates
Various recording venues
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Andrés Villalta
Release date: August 2006
Total duration: 61 minutes 22 seconds

INTERNATIONAL PIANO AWARDS 2006 READERS' CHOICE

'Consummate musicianship and formidable technical control. The warmth and beauty of tone are never sacrificed even in the most thickly textured writing of the first movement. The Finale in particular is quite dazzling, Hamelin's quicksilver dexterity bringing an effervescent humour and brilliant rhythmic incisiveness to the music' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The Canadian's magisterial technique means that he dispatches with feline ease passages such as the notorious whispering doble octaves in the scherzo' (Daily Telegraph)

'The grand romantic manner comes easily to Hamelin. Modern discipline, too, and his combination of finger power, firm engineering, caressing gentleness and playful wit makes him a natural for Brahms's second piano concerto' (The Times)

'Hamelin strides forth with a technical magnificence that is glittering and propulsive, but also with a light and shade that directs to the music's inner sanctum' (International Piano)

'Hamelin consistently beguiles the ear…in the scherzo of the concerto, he uses clean rhythm to bring excitement to No. 3 without overwhelming the music. His light touch in the first piece emphasizes both its dreaminess as well as its sparse modernity: Schoenberg's famous appellation "Brahms the progressive" is singularly applicable here. The engineering is up to Hyperion's usual high standard, with ideal balances between piano and orchestra in the concerto…This is an excellent release and an important landmark in Hamelin's evolving discography' (Classics Today)

'Hamelin makes for a brilliant soloist and fine Brahms interpreter here… the result is one of the more successful and satisfying Brahms Seconds to come down the pike in quite a while… the four op. 119 pieces that fill out the disc are a nice bonus, and played by Hamelin with the caressing tenderness of one who understands the ache of Brahms' winter regret. Strongly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'Hamelin and conductor Andrew Litton achieve a kind of mind-meld in their reading of the Brahms Second Concerto … This is music-making of the highest order, intensely communicative and attuned to the composer's mastery of narrative form and structure' (The Absolute Sound, USA)

Piano Concerto No 2
Hyperion’s Record of the Month for August features Marc-André Hamelin and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Litton in a compelling account of Brahms’s huge Piano Concerto No 2. This work blends the principles of symphony and concerto in a manner that invokes chamber music, while also representing the culmination of everything that Brahms had learned as a lifelong connoisseur of pianistic technique. Cast in four large movements, this concerto can be seen as a kind of pianistic autobiography, from the young virtuoso, through the D minor anguish of the scherzo and the self-communing chamber-like slow movement, to the Hungarian rhythms of the more ebullient song-and-dance finale. The Four Piano Pieces Op 119 written in the composer’s final years—three ravishingly inward and autumnal Intermezzi offset by a virile and heroic Rhapsodie—complete this rounded portrait of the composer. Marc-André Hamelin’s pianistic authority and, when required, thrilling virtuosity are underpinned by a deep understanding of this epic work. He is magnificently partnered by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton, and his intimate dialogue with the solo cello in the slow movement is a high-point of this richly fulfilling interpretation. Marc-André’s musicianship is further revealed in his poignant and searching performance of the four late solo pieces. For lovers of this composer, and of great piano-playing, this is essential listening. Also available in an astonishingly crisp DSD hybrid SACD multichannel version.

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