Hyperion Records

Étude No 7 in E flat minor 'after Tchaikovsky, for the left hand alone'
2006; after Tchaikovsky's Op 16 No 1 song Kolïbel'naya pesnya ('Lullaby' or 'Cradle song'); published by C. F. Peters Corp., New York

'Hamelin: Études' (CDA67789)
Hamelin: Études
Track 7 on CDA67789 [5'01]

Étude No 7 in E flat minor 'after Tchaikovsky, for the left hand alone'
The initial idea to make an arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Lullaby Op 16 No 1 for Étude No 7, after Tchaikovsky (for the left hand alone), came because of my performances of it as pianist in the original version for voice and piano. My transformation of it came about after the song simply started rolling around in my head insistently one day, to the point where I had to do something about it.

In composing for the left hand alone, I am contributing to a long and noble tradition. Unlike some composers, I don’t regard writing for one hand as an opportunity to display pianistic proficiency; instead I consider it a fascinating compositional constraint. Such writing presents quite a challenge. Indeed, there is not much point in composing for one hand unless one tries to make the textures as rich as possible, and it is a special delight to try to make one hand sound like two. This is precisely what is attempted here, and for this reason the chief difficulty of the piece resides in the proper control of the pedal. Only the most careful handling of it will ensure the seamlessness and the richness of texture that ultimately creates the illusion of two-handed playing.

Although I had been aware of Rachmaninov’s (two-handed) arrangement for many years before I wrote this one, I had never actually heard it. Not until after I had finished mine did I patiently wade through Rachmaninov’s seven-flatted forest.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010

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