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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66884
Recording details: January 1996
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: October 1996
Total duration: 3 minutes 57 seconds

'Hamelin's pleasure in this repertoire—challenging to the pianist, delightful to the listener—is manifest in every bar' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The wizardry of Grainger's invention is never out of step with Hamelin's fingers—all 20 (or so it seems) of them. Try and keep your lower jaw in place as [he] negotiates Grainger's 'cakewalk smasher' In Dahomey' (The Independent)

'One of the most brilliant and sensitive young pianists we have on the scene today. His technique is formidable: the more fiendishly difficult a piece is, the more spectacularly he plays it. Yet … what sets him apart as a pianist is his uncanny ability to melt your heart' (Financial Times)

'This hugely enjoyable recital is a distinguished addition to Hamelin's already remarkable discography' (Hi-Fi News)

'Definitely a contender for piano record of the year' (San Francisco Examiner)

'Marc-André Hamelin's Grainger disc must stand as one of the best that could ever possibly be made. The powers Hamelin has at his disposal are endless. A colossal musician' (Soundscapes, Australia)

'Ici l'interprète se doit de broyer l'ivoire, et l'étourdissante technique de Marc-André Hamelin s'y entend à merveille! Si l'on ajoute son extrême délicatesse de toucher, son phrasé lyrique et chaleureux trouvant d'instinct le chemin du coeur, on comprendra que ces prouesses pianistiques laissent pantois, ému au point que l'on ne sait plus très bien si l'on rit, mais on tout cas pris aux tripes' (Diapason, France)

'Grainger demanda tanto una agilidad sorprendente como gran delicadeza en el fraseo, virtudes ambas que posee el solista canadiense' (CD Compact, Spain)

In Dahomey 'Cakewalk Smasher'
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In Dahomey (Cakewalk Smasher) was inspired by tunes from an all-Negro musical comedy of the same name starring Bert Williams and George Walker, noted exponents of the cakewalk. The only known London performance of this comedy with music by Will Marion Cook occurred at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 16 May 1903 and one must assume that both Grainger and Rathbone were in the audience. Grainger’s jazzy romp quotes from the chorus of Cook’s Brown Skin Baby Mine and to this Grainger mixes a cakewalk piece by Arthur Pryor (a trombone soloist with Sousa’s band). It occupied Grainger for six years, with the final two notes being added in Aden harbour in June 1909. It is a concert rag of huge dimensions which ranges in character from gentle impressionism to wild abandon. Pryor was noted for his trombone glissandi or ‘licks’, here translated into their pianistic equivalents by a cataclysm of virtuosic tricks including glissandi of every known type. The inevitable combination of both tunes has been described as ‘a page of nearly Ivesian dissonance’; ‘encountering this work for the first time is like entering a time machine!’ Grainger conjures up the sounds of banjo, brass band and other instrumental colours of the period. He dedicated this ‘smasher’ to Rathbone with the enigmatic words: ‘For you have always been so good to it.’ The work remained in manuscript and was never seemingly offered for publication during Grainger’s lifetime. It was eventually published in 1987 some seventy-eight years after completion. A full history of the genesis of this piece can be found in the published edition (C F Peters, New York).

from notes by Barry Peter Ould © 1996

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