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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Front illustration by Julie Doucet (b?)
Track(s) taken from CDA67656
Recording details: July 2007
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: April 2008
Total duration: 3 minutes 26 seconds

'Played with such astounding agility and aplomb that you end up mesmerised by virtually every bar. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that no other pianist could approach Hamelin in such music. Notes pour and cascade like diamonds from his fingers and he has an inborn flair for the music's wild, free-wheeling melodies and rhythms, for its glittering whimsy and caprice … superbly presented and recorded, this is a special addition to Hamelin's towering and unique discography' (Gramophone)

'Although this fine recording is entitled 'In a state of jazz' it includes no true jazz—every note is written down—but for all that it bursts with the daring vitality that is the hallmark of the best improvised music' (The Observer)

'The Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin possesses one of those musical brains that spark with maddening brilliance in whatever direction takes his fancy … it's hard to believe Hamelin didn't grow up within earshot of some dubious jazz haunt in New Orleans or Harlem … as Hamelin explains in his enjoyably lucid booklet notes, Gulda's astonishing pianistic pedigree deserves to be seen in a far wider context … Hamelin's evocations of these are wonderfully whimsical yet as crisp as celery. The syncopations 'sit' so comfortably under his fingers—exactly the right balance between ambition and restraint, warmth and edge—a pretty rare commodity in the performance of classical repertoire, let alone jazz-inspired music … this is a lovely, lovely disc; I highly recommend it' (International Record Review)

'Hamelin plays with such dexterous panache that he puts back much of the heat that the formalisation of jazz as 'composition' removes … dazzling and enchanting' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Nikolai Kapustin's remarkable Sonata No 2 is a convincing integration of classical form with jazz. Alexis Weissenberg's Sonate en état de Jazz, which evokes tango, Charleston, blues and samba in its four movements, is more idiosyncratic but no less dazzling' (The Scotsman)

'What an imaginative program Marc-André Hamelin has assembled: jazz-inspired works that are virtuosic like nobody's business and totally fun to listen to … technically, of course, Hamelin is beyond reproach … he's a serious contender for the first word in piano playing' (ClassicsToday.com)

Coin de rue
composer
arranger

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Sometime in the 1950s there appeared on the Lumen label an extended play 45-rpm record called Mr. Nobody Plays Trenet. It contained unusually creative and entertaining piano settings of six songs by the French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet (1913–2001). The identity of ‘Mr. Nobody’ was kept secret until a few years ago, when it was revealed to be Alexis Weissenberg. It is easy to see why Weissenberg chose to adopt a pseudonym for this recording. At that time a serious classical pianist dabbling in such trivialities as popular song would most likely have been compromising his own career. (How times have changed. This kind of thing is welcomed, even encouraged, by record companies now.)

From the moment I was introduced to this recording by a friend, I was anxious to play the arrangements myself. But since Weissenberg never wrote them down, I had to create a score. Luckily, the whole experience of transcribing the songs was pleasant—despite my devoting an entire month to it. Anyone who is familiar with Trenet’s songs in their original form will be delightfully surprised by what Weissenberg has done with them. Unusual touches abound: in Coin de rue, an evocation of the narrator’s childhood, the listener is treated to the sounds of a barrel organ; the ‘oom-pah’ rhythm of Boum! becomes a foxtrot, while the moderately paced Ménilmontant is transformed into a headlong moto perpetuo.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2008

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