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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66874
Recording details: January 1996
Wigmore Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: January 1997
Total duration: 11 minutes 33 seconds

'The virtuosity with which all this is despatched is exceptional' (BBC Record Review)

'There are few living pianists who can match him in dexterity, power and daring. For heart-thumping virtuosity Hamelin is in a class of his own' (Classic CD)

'These are musically and technically dazzling readings of some of the most demanding and poetic music ever written for the piano. They make me wonder if Liszt himself ever played them better! You rarely hear music-making of this calibre' (Hi-Fi News)

'Peu parmi les plus grands seraient capable d'être aussi rigoristes tout en étant aussi virtuoses' (Répertoire, France)

Hungarian Rhapsody in C sharp minor, S244 No 2

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Second Rhapsody needs little introduction. Leaning initially more towards C sharp minor than to F sharp major, it incorporates a friska whose cumulative early effect perfectly suggests members of an ensemble listening, ‘catching on’, and one by one joining in. Three or four of its companion pieces equal the Second Rhapsody’s virtuosity and thematic diversity, but none surpasses it. Before the concluding page (Prestissimo) Liszt calls for a Cadenza ad libitum. It is not widely known that he did in fact supply two himself. His pupil Eugen d’Albert supplied a fine alternative (somewhat indebted to Liszt’s own), Rachmaninov produced a stupendous version of his own, and Vladimir Horowitz typically produced one which seems to synthesize all those he could conceivably have heard. As such a situation creates arguably unanswerable expectation among a live audience of connoisseurs, it is perhaps unsurprising that on the occasion of this recital Marc-André Hamelin defied all predictions. His own cadenza, an ingenious amalgam of thematic superimposition and bitonality, stretches compositional credibility less far than might be idly supposed (the seeds of Liszt’s late works such as the Czárdás macabre are present in the Rhapsodies), while yet defying the evidence of the senses on pyrotechnical grounds and providing a powerful ‘reminiscence’ of one of the greatest of all exponents of this repertoire, the late György Cziffra.

from notes by Francis Pott © 1997

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