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Hyperion Records

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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: 21 minutes 39 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)

Sonata No 2, Op 54
composer
1989

Allegro molto  [9'03]
Allegro vivace  [3'30]

Other recordings available for download
Steven Osborne (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonata No 2 dates from 1989 and so far constitutes Kapustin’s most extended work in the genre. Written in the bright, sanguine key of E major, it is cast in a traditional four-movement mould. There is, however, nothing at all traditional about the piano writing itself, which teems with interesting and innovative twists and turns, both stylistically and pianistically. Indeed, one remarkable feature of Kapustin’s piano writing is that it is always made to fit the hand beautifully. He always insists on composing at the piano, in order to avoid coming up with figurations which would not fit the hand well. Prokofiev once described one of Nikolai Medtner’s short piano pieces as being so comfortable as to be ‘always right there, under the fingers’. The same can unquestionably be said of Kapustin at any point within the body of his piano works. Indeed, my personal feeling is that, on a purely pianistic level, Kapustin and Medtner tower above any other piano composer in history, as far as pure comfort at the keyboard is concerned.

It is best to leave the listener to discover the many surprises contained in this exuberant work—as well as the various apparent influences—though a couple of features are worth pointing out. The brilliant and overwhelmingly energetic first movement is curiously but very effectively rounded out by a reflective and rather lengthy coda, in great contrast to the ebullience of what came before. And the last movement is unique in its rhythmic framework; it is a perpetual motion set in a repeated pattern of 8+7+8+5 beats, and keeps to this stilted sequence up to the very last bar, resulting in many unexpected accents. Incidentally, this movement is usually thought to have been inspired by the pianism of Art Tatum, but this is because it is often performed too quickly. Kapustin’s stated influence here is the world of country music.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2008


Other albums featuring this work
'Kapustin: Piano Music, Vol. 1' (CDA67159)
Kapustin: Piano Music, Vol. 1

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