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Hyperion Records

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Still of Marc-André Hamelin from the film Des pas sur la neige.
CLC Productions, 2009
Track(s) taken from CDA67789
Recording details: November 2009
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: September 2010
Total duration: 2 minutes 15 seconds

'Dear Marc-André, I begged and pleaded for Hyperion to keep this disc under wraps. But now that it's released, all of us composer / pianists have no choice but to go out of business. Isn't it enough for you simply to be the world's most proficient pianist? Do you also have to compose amazingly well for your instrument, and rewardingly so? Must you serve up some of the most witty, charming, entertaining and devastatingly effective piano music of your generation?' (Gramophone)

'Hamelin's original etudes … as well as the character pieces that round out the disc, with their blend of tasteful lyricism and striking textures and harmonies, are as enjoyable as his homages. While brashly flaunting his influences (Gershwin, Poulenc, Rachmaninov) he sounds utterly individual. Of course, the composer makes all the technical difficulties sound easy to play in these vividly recorded performances' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A set of 12 Études that reveals Hamelin's immersion in the great virtuoso tradition … Hamelin the composer has the same kind of tact and imagination that Hamelin the pianist does … the virtuoso demands are daunting; but there's so much harmonic and contrapuntal interest in these works, so much sheer joie de vivre, such evident love for the instrument and its history, and such consistent wit, that even music lovers who disdain virtuoso excess are likely to be seduced … in its gentle luminosity, the [Theme and Variations] is the most touching work on the CD. Hamelin the pianist, of course, plays with his usual understated virtuosity—his unerring control of phrasing, articulation and dynamics; his ability to generate huge masses of sound without banging; his succulent legato; and, most important in the more thorny textures, his ability to give each contrapuntal line its own flavour … the engineering is first rate. A cause for celebration' (International Record Review)

'One of this extraordinary musician's finest achievements, indeed, one of the great solo piano recordings ever made' (Fanfare, USA)

'These are astounding pieces … with a hint of frenetic, sometimes out-and-out grotesque, madness. They bar no holds where technical extremes are concerned … these are the other individual works on this superlative disc cover anythign from grandiose Romanticism to 20th-century stride' (The Scotsman)

Étude No 1 in A minor 'Triple Étude, after Chopin'
composer
1992; after Godowsky's lost Study, reputed based on Chopin's études Op 10 No 2, Op 25 No 4 and Op 25 No 11; published by C. F. Peters Corp., New York; Hamelin's Étude No 1 was formerly an arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Between 1894 and 1914 Leopold Godowsky published his extraordinary collection of 54 Studies on Chopin’s Etudes. There is evidence, judging from back-cover listings in early editions of these pieces, that a further eleven studies were at least conceived and possibly even written out. One of these was to have been a contrapuntal combination of Chopin’s Op 10 No 2, Op 25 No 4, and Op 25 No 11, a tantalizing idea to be sure. It has always been the desire of many die-hard pianophiles to find out how in the world Godowsky was able to pull off such a bizarre compositional stunt while having the end result remain musically coherent. There has been hope that the manuscript still exists, but the greater likelihood is that it was lost or destroyed during World War II, along with the other unpublished studies.

The Triple Étude (after Chopin) was written at the suggestion of my friend Donald Manildi who, on the basis of my reworking of Op 10 No 5 (Étude No 10 in this collection) thought that I could perhaps come up with something approaching Godowsky’s contrapuntal feat. I took great pleasure in writing this little piece, especially after realizing that the first eight bars fit so well together. It gets considerably more complicated afterwards, since all three studies have widely different structures and harmonic rhythms; it therefore becomes necessary for one of them to dominate at any time, while the other two are made to conform to it. All three of them do precisely that here, in turn.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010

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