Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
A River Scene in Alsace by Charles Euphrasie Kurwasseg (1833-1904)
Fine Art Photographic Library / Burlington Paintings
Track(s) taken from CDA67166
Recording details: December 1999
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: February 2001
Total duration: 17 minutes 43 seconds

'A dazzling technician fuses technical dexterity and poetry to compelling effect … for me the outstanding performance is the great C major Fantasie … so beautifully voiced and phrased I can only say that it moved me more deeply than any I have heard for a long time’ (Gramophone)

'Genuinely outstanding disc' (The Guardian)

'Hamelin brings a transcendental technique and passionate romantic temperament to music that, more often than not, is the preserve of pianistic intellectuals and poets. But his performances of the great C major Fantasy and the Symphonic Studies are not merely exercises in virtuosity. His astounding feats of dexterity and dazzling spectrum of colour are constantly put to the service of the music. This is freshly conceived Schumann, light and brilliant in bravura passages—the concluding Allegro brillante of the Etudes rarely sounds so joyous—yet never lightweight in reflective music: the slow third movement of the Fantasy is a poignantly poetic meditation, while the lovely Andantino of the Sonata glows with an entirely appropriate inward emotional intensity. Hamelin's Schumann ideally combines the extrovert and introspective characteristics of this glorious music. Highly recommended.' (The Sunday Times)

'While there’s no shortage of either visceral excitement or poetic exploration, this remains supremely balanced playing … If you’re already a Hamelin aficionado, of course, you won’t need my urging to buy this disc; but if you’ve been wary because of his usually offbeat repertoire, here’s a chance to see what he can contribute to the mainstream. Top recommendation' (Fanfare, USA)

‘If you want to experience a whirlwind ride, Hamelin is definitely your man. A remarkable tour-de-force’ (The Irish Times)

‘Supreme artistry’ (Pianist)

‘These are among the most poetic readings you will find by anyone. The tone is beautiful, the phrases long and songful, the drama passionate. This disc whets one’s appetite for more mainstream masterpieces from the world’s fastest fingers’ (Capital Times)

'[Hamelin’s] reading is glorious in its blend of virtuosity and emotional commitment … The recording quality is first-rate. I doubt very much if the current year will produce a finer piano CD’ (Musical Opinion)

Piano Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 22
composer
published in September 1839

Rondo: Presto  [5'19]

Other recordings available for download
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Percy Grainger (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
During the first blissful weeks of their marriage, the Schumanns studied together all of Book I of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Robert wanted to enlarge Clara’s knowledge of the piano repertoire, which, under the tutelage of her father, had mainly comprised virtuoso show pieces. In 1841, only a year after their marriage, she wrote: ‘The less I play in public now, the more I hate the whole mechanical world of virtuoso showpieces … [they] have become quite repugnant to me.’ At times, however, Robert took advice from Clara, whose judgement as a seasoned performer he respected. Such was the case with the Piano Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 22. Clara wrote in 1838:

I am enormously excited with the idea of your Second Sonata; it reminds me of so many happy as well as painful hours. I love it, as I do you. Your whole being is so clearly expressed in it, and besides, it’s not too obscure.
Only one thing. Do you want to leave the last movement as it was before? Better to change it and make it a bit easier because it is much too difficult. I understand it and can play it alright, but people, the public, even the connoisseurs for whom one actually writes, don’t understand it. You won’t take this badly, will you?

Robert didn’t take it badly, and wrote another finale which he felt also went better with the first movement.

Of his three piano sonatas, the G minor is by far the most concise. It is a work of great sweep and passion, typically combining dramatic urgency with moments of rapt tenderness. Schumann doesn’t wait to get our attention—he demands it in the first bar with that sudden, broken G minor chord. The first challenge he throws at the player is to mark the opening ‘As fast as possible’, only to urge him or her to go ‘faster’ and ‘still faster’ before the end is reached. The opening theme, which is imitated in the bass, uses the partial descending scale that became Clara’s motto in many of his piano works—a ‘cry from the heart’ for her when they were unable to be together. The beautiful slow movement, marked getragen (solemn), was originally a song that Robert wrote when he was eighteen years old. The calm doesn’t last for long, though. With the Scherzo comes the one bit of humour in the sonata: in its episodes in the major mode there is certainly a twinkle in his eye. The ‘new’ finale makes extensive use of broken octaves to express its restlessness, and the Clara motto appears in the lyrical second subject. The music works up to a feverish climax and a dramatic pause over a diminished seventh chord. The ensuing cadenza goes like the wind, never once letting up. Clara certainly got what she wanted.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2010


Other albums featuring this work
'Percy Grainger – The complete 78-rpm solo recordings' (APR7501)
Percy Grainger – The complete 78-rpm solo recordings
MP3 £16.49FLAC £16.49ALAC £16.49 APR7501  5CDs Download only  
'Schumann: Davidsbündlertänze, Kinderszenen, Sonata No 2' (CDA67780)
Schumann: Davidsbündlertänze, Kinderszenen, Sonata No 2
MP3 £5.25FLAC £5.25ALAC £5.25Buy by post £5.25 CDA67780  Please, someone, buy me …  
'A Matthay Miscellany – Rare and unissued recordings by Tobias Matthay and his pupils' (APR6014)
A Matthay Miscellany – Rare and unissued recordings by Tobias Matthay and his pupils
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 APR6014  2CDs for the price of 1 — Download only  

Show: MP3 FLAC ALAC
   English   Français   Deutsch