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Track(s) taken from CDA67951/3

Canonic Variations and Fugue, BVB40

composer
1916; on the Theme by King Frederick the Great, from J S Bach's Musical Offering

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
CD-Quality:
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Recording details: August 2012
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2013
Total duration: 7 minutes 22 seconds

Cover artwork: Materia (1912) by Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916)
Private Collection / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
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Reviews

'Works where Busoni found his truest voice … Hamelin, playing with unfaltering lucidity and authority, achieves an astonishing triumph even by his exalted standards. As always, Hyperion has done him proud … an album that could never be bettered' (Gramophone)» More

'Marc-André Hamelin’s performance of the Busoni Piano Concerto for Hyperion is one of the finest ever recorded of that mammoth work, and now he has produced what is arguably the most important collection of the solo piano music since Geoffrey Douglas Madge’s epic six-disc survey for Philips in 1987 … All the most significant works are here … Hamelin includes some rarities Madge omitted, notably Busoni’s first foray into 'Red Indian’ music, the spellbinding Indianisches Erntelied (not published till 2001) … As to the performances, they are all you could hope from a player of such quality, laced with repertoire he might have been born to interpret. This is playing of a very high order, such as—despite the now numerous competing versions of the Elegies, Sonatinas and Toccata—one seldom hears. Hamelin is well-nigh ideal in sensitivity of phrasing, clarity of tone and delineation of voices, not to mention subtlety of pedalling … He reminds you that you are listening to one of history’s greatest piano composers, a philosopher of the piano to whose ear and mind the whole of European concert music seems to have been continually present. A fabulous set, almost beyond praise' (BBC Music Magazine)» More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

'What comes through on listening to Hamelin is the underlying consistency of his approach over this music as a whole and, above all, the singularity of Busoni's musical vision and its relevance to composers and pianists almost a century on' (International Record Review)

'Few pianists have the time and technique to devote to music that is so little-known. Marc-André Hamelin is the shining exception. He demonstrated his Busoni credentials more than a decade ago with an outstanding account of the Piano Concerto … Hamelin handles all with great intelligence. There's a swagger when the music demands it, a fabulously refined sense of sonority and transparency when required. The technical challenges are surmounted so effortlessly that you begin to take the confidence of his playing for granted, when in fact it's a remarkable achievement' (The Guardian)» More

'The gift I'd choose for myself would be Marc-André Hamelin's magisterial three-disc survey of Busoni's later piano music—elusive and haunting material from a pivotal figure' (The Times)» More

'Hyperion does Busoni a great service in issuing this magnificent three-disc box. Those readers who know Busoni mainly (or only) via his transcriptions will have a whole new world revealed to them. Hamelin, one of today’s super-virtuosos but also a musician of the highest rank, seems to be the ideal interpreter, and is captured throughout in superb sound' (International Piano)» More

'This three-CD set presents Marc-André Hamelin, another formidable pianist, in Busoni works from the first quarter of the 20th century. The music draws from the heritage of Bach, Liszt and Wagner, while taking modern paths and anticipating atonality. Even when a particular piece seems amorphous or elusive, these elegies, fantasias, sonatinas and more are continually fascinating, especially in Mr. Hamelin’s commanding performances' (The New York Times)

'Hamelin's recent release of three CDs devoted to the late piano music of Ferruccio Busoni represents another milestone in an outstanding career … These three discs contain a number of pieces not previously recorded and also include a sampling of the numerous Bach arrangements Busoni is best known for. The programming is exemplary, the sound is alluring (from a Steinway piano recorded in London’s Henry Wood Hall) and the program notes are excellent. Bravo Hamelin!' (The Whole Note, Canada)

'L’impeccable virtuosité de Marc-André Hamelin se joue des pièges recélés par ces redoutables partitions; sa quête faustienne, à la fois analytique et méditée, assume la dimension philosophique quasi médiévale de cette alchimie sonore et nous en livre une référence absolue' (Classica, France)
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

‘Marc-André Hamelin gelingt, alle Facetten in exzellenten Interpretationen darzustellen … seiner qualitativ hochwertigen Edition der Klaviermusik von Ferruccio Busoni dürfte deshalb über eine lange Zeit der Referenzstatus sicher sein' (Piano, Germany)
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING
Busoni, who was fascinated in his late years by the contrapuntal possibilities of Bach’s works, published in 1917 two ‘contrapuntal studies’: one was an analytical edition of the Fantasy and Fugue in A minor, BWV904, the other a realization of the canons from the Musical Offering, BWV1079, published as Canonic Variations and Fugue ‘(on the theme by King Frederick the Great)’. After showing the layout in Bach’s original (using a different order from that of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe), Busoni presents the ‘Thema regium’ (played by both hands at a distance of two octaves) followed by his realization of nine canons, the last one being the fugue:

Andante alla breve (Thema regium)
Canon perpetuus: two parts surrounding the theme, one bar apart; with note values twice as long as in Bach
Quaerendo invenietis: ‘Seek and you shall find’; mirror canon with the follower, being the inversion of the ornamented theme, two bars apart
Canon a 4: four presentations of a theme, seven bars apart, going from one to four parts
Canon cancrizans: the theme against itself, but stated backwards
Per motum contrarium: the theme in the highest part, with two canonic parts moving in contrary motion, the follower starting a fourth lower than the leader
Per augmentationem contrario motu: the top part in inversion and twice as slow as the bottom one, around the ornamented theme in the middle part
Per tonos: canon at the fifth, one bar apart, against the ornamented theme in the top part; two repetitions out of the possible six
In unisono: canon at the fifth, one bar apart, with the theme in the bottom part, in octaves
Fuga canonica in epidiapente: fugue consisting of a canon at the fifth above, ten bars apart, with a third part underneath

The perpetual canon, scored for violin, flute and keyboard, is left out. Creating this concert version for two hands required much part-crossing and octave transposition, as well as minor modifications to link the pieces into a continuous stream.

from notes by Marc-André Roberge © 2013

Busoni, qui était fasciné pendant ses dernières années par les possibilités contrapuntiques des œuvres de Bach, publie en 1917 deux «études contrapuntiques»: une édition analytique de la Fantaisie et fugue en la mineur, BWV904, et une réalisation des canons de l’Offrande musicale, BWV1079, publiée sous le titre de Variations canoniques et fugue «(sur le thème du roi Frédéric le Grand)». Après avoir montré la disposition utilisée dans l’original de Bach (qui diffère de celui adopté par la Neue Bach-Ausgabe), Busoni présente le «Thema regium» (joué par les deux mains à une distance de deux octaves) suivi de sa réalisation de neuf canons, le dernier étant la fugue:

Andante alla breve (Thema regium)
Canon perpetuus: deux parties entourant le thème, à une mesure de distance, avec valeurs de notes deux fois plus longues que chez Bach
Quaerendo invenietis: «cherchez et vous trouverez»; canon en miroir avec le conséquent (inversion du thème ornementé), à deux mesures de distance
Canon a 4: quatre présentations d’un thème, à sept mesures de distance, progressant d’une à quatre parties
Canon cancrizans: le thème contre lui-même, mais en mouvement rétrograde
Per motum contrarium: le thème dans la partie la plus élevée, avec deux parties canoniques en mouvement contraire, le conséquent commençant à la quarte inférieure
Per augmentationem contrario motu: la partie supérieure en inversion et deux fois plus lente que la partie inférieure, autour du thème ornementé dans la partie médiane
Per tonos: canon à la quinte, à une mesure de distance, contre le thème ornementé dans la partie supérieure; deux répétitions sur six possibles
In unisono: canon à la quinte, à une mesure de distance, avec le thème en octaves dans la partie inférieure
Fuga canonica in epidiapente: fugue consistant en un canon à la quinte supérieure, à dix mesures de distance, avec une troisième partie en-dessous

Le canon perpétuel, écrit pour violon, flûte et clavier, est laissé de côté. Écrire cette version de concert pour deux mains a exigé de nombreux croisements de voix et des transpositions d’octave de même que des changements mineurs pour lier les pièces en un tout continu.

extrait des notes rédigées par Marc-André Roberge © 2013

Busoni interessierte sich im Alter besonders für die kontrapunktischen Möglichkeiten der Werke Bachs und gab 1917 zwei „Kontrapunktische Studien“ heraus: eine war eine analytische Ausgabe der Fantasie und Fuge in a-Moll, BWV904, und die andere eine Ausarbeitung der Kanons aus dem Musikalischen Opfer, BWV1079, die er als Kanonische Variationen und Fuge „(über das Thema König Friedrichs des Großen)“ gezogen und für Klavier dargestellt veröffentlichte. Nachdem er den Aufbau in Bachs ursprünglicher Form vorgestellt hat (jedoch in einer anderen Reihenfolge als in der Neuen Bach-Ausgabe), präsentiert Busoni das „Thema regium“ (in beiden Händen mit einem Abstand von zwei Oktaven), worauf seine neun Kanons folgen, von denen der letzte eine Fuge ist:

Andante alla breve (Thema regium)
Canon perpetuus: zwei Stimmen umkreisen im Abstand von einem Takt das Thema; Notenwerte doppelt so lang wie bei Bach
Quaerendo invenietis: „Sucht, und ihr werdet finden“; Spiegelkanon, bei dem die zweite Stimme (Umkehrung des verzierten Themas) nach zwei Takten einsetzt
Canon a 4: vier Darstellungen eines Themas im Abstand von sieben Takten, wobei der Satz einstimmig beginnt und im Laufe des Stücks auf vier Stimmen ausgedehnt wird
Canon cancrizans: Krebskanon—eine Stimme führt das Thema vorwärts, die andere rückwärts
Per motum contrarium: das Thema erklingt in der obersten Stimme, darunter verlaufen zwei kanonische Stimmen in Gegenbewegung; die zweite Stimme setzt eine Quarte unterhalb des Themas ein
Per augmentationem contrario motu: die obere Stimme erklingt umgekehrt und im halben Tempo der unteren Stimme; dazwischen liegt das verzierte Thema in der mittleren Stimme
Per tonos: Quintkanon mit einem Takt Abstand, dazu das verzierte Thema in der oberen Stimme; es erklingen zwei von sechs möglichen Wiederholungen
In unisono: Quintkanon mit einem Takt Abstand; Thema in Oktaven in der unteren Stimme
Fuga canonica in epidiapente: Fuge mit Oberquintkanon mit einem Abstand von zehn Takten, hinzu tritt eine dritte Stimme darunter

Der Canon perpetuus für Violine, Flöte und Tasteninstrument ist hier ausgelassen. Um diese Konzertfassung zu zwei Händen zu erstellen, waren zahlreiche Stimmkreuzungen und Oktavtranspositionen erforderlich, sowie kleinere Veränderungen, um die Stücke zu einem fortlaufenden Ganzen zusammenzustellen.

aus dem Begleittext von Marc-André Roberge © 2013
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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