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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67433
Recording details: June 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: June 2004
Total duration: 22 minutes 17 seconds

'Everything on this remarkable disc is played with a nonchalant aplomb and magical dexterity hard to imagine from any other pianist. Hamelin … is in his element, and he has been immaculately recorded' (Gramophone)

'The music is full of virtuosity which Marc-André handles effortlessly' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Beautifully recorded, the disc is a delightful—and, as ever, distinguished—addition to Hamelin's discography as well as a major boost to the reputation of one of today's most paradoxical composers. One for the Christmas stocking, I think' (International Record Review)

'Exceptionally well-played and recorded' (The Times)

'Hamelin is one of Kapustin's strongest advocates and proves his perfect interpreter: super cool, he sounds utterly laid-back even in the most fearsome rhythmic traps; his phrasing is exquisitely turned and 'finished'; and his affection for the music shines out in every note. Hear this and you'll be hooked' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hamelin captures a quality of spontaneity, not to mention sheer agility and elegance, with awesome fluency. A remarkable release in every respect' (Fanfare, USA)

'Hamelin is one of the most gifted pianists around at the moment, and his playing here has such light and shade, wit, nuance, and blinding virtuosity that it is hard to imagine finer performances of this terrific repertoire. The recording is characteristic of Hyperion's piano sound at its considerable best. All in all, one of the most enjoyable piano discs I have heard in ages. Recommended with unquenchable enthusiasm!' (International Piano)

'Marc-André Hamelin simply flies through the music, ignoring any technical difficulties with the most marvellous command and virtuosity … in all, this second disc of Kapustin's marvellous music from Hyperion is the most exceptionally satisfying discovery' (Hi-Fi Plus)

'Hamelin plays with all his trademark virtuosity and nimble wit, making the keyboard thunder and sing' (San Francisco Chronicle)

'Chapeau évidemment à cet incroyable Marc-André Hamelin dont la technique époustouflante s'adapte à tous les genres musicaux. Précipitez-vous pour acquérir cet événement discographique et découvrir cette musique sans pareil. Pour notre part, nous l'avons écoutée une bonne dizaine de fois pour bien nous convaincre de la réjouissante folie du dénommé Kapustin!' (Répertoire, France)

Eight Concert Études, Op 40

Dream: Moderato  [3'13]
Shuitka: Vivace  [2'17]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
For stylistic breadth, formidable technical challenges, and audacious invention, the Eight Concert Études, Op 40 (1984) more than hold their own with the genre’s celebrated benchmarks, from Liszt and Lyapunov to Godowsky’s retooled Chopin and Earl Wild’s Gershwin transformations. No 1 (Allegro assai) tears out from the starting gate with a twelve-bar introduction that quickly transports us to the crowded streets of Rio de Janeiro at the height of Carnival season. Yet for all the music’s giddy groove and melodic uplift, its tempestuous, Chopinseque figurations never relent. Nor do the second Étude’s equally difficult yet gentler double notes that provide a contemporary counterpart to Rachmaninov’s Prelude Op 23 No 9. Its outer sections filter Arensky and Lyapunov through Kapustin’s jazz-tinted eyeglasses, in contrast to pure, unadulterated jazz fantasia characterizing the central episode. The first Étude’s Latino elements come more aggressively to the fore in the Toccatina (No 3), with the young, passionate Scriabin peeking in at fleeting lyrical moments. Repeated notes jump from register to register, suggesting the dapper syncopations of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Imagine the long, gorgeously discursive lines Chick Corea spins out in his unaccompanied improvisations against a slow and steady, processional-like left-hand accompaniment (think Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies, or Bill Evans’ Peace Piece) alternating between 3/4 and 4/4 time, and you’ve got the essence of Étude No 4. At times the textural tables turn, so to speak, as the filigree descends into the piano’s lower depths, while the billowy left-hand chords, in turn, gain altitude and get to sing out the piece’s big tunes in the process.

In No 5 Kapustin subjects the classic twelve-bar blues form to a playful boogie-woogie treatment, replete with whirling barrelhouse licks, Leonard Bernstein accents that are unpredictable enough to cause an ‘age of anxiety’ on the performer’s part. Happily, Kapustin’s sophisticated reharmonizations never detract from the music’s earthy core. The multi-strain formula employed so effectively in Scott Joplin’s rags and James P Johnson’s stride showpieces finds a modern counterpart in Étude No 6, albeit with twists and turns that wouldn’t have happened without Stephen Sondheim. And just as Sondheim’s Follies pastiches the styles of Broadway’s first golden age (Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Berlin), so Étude No 7’s disarming tunefulness evokes a subsequent generation of American musical theatre giants (Frank Loesser, Cy Coleman, Charles Strouse, Jerry Herman). Behind the music’s easy lope, however, lies some dazzling piano writing, including extensive, exposed passages in thirds. No 8 (Prestissimo) is similar in style and mood to Nos 1 and 3, but more compact.

from notes by Jed Distler © 2004

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