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Track(s) taken from CDA67789

Étude No 5 in G minor 'Toccata grottesca'

2008; published by C. F. Peters Corp., New York

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Recording details: November 2009
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: September 2010
Total duration: 4 minutes 38 seconds

Cover artwork: Still of Marc-André Hamelin from the film Des pas sur la neige.
CLC Productions, 2009


'Dear Marc-André, I begged and pleaded for Hyperion to keep this disc under wraps. But now that it's released, all of us composer / pianists have no choice but to go out of business. Isn't it enough for you simply to be the world's most proficient pianist? Do you also have to compose amazingly well for your instrument, and rewardingly so? Must you serve up some of the most witty, charming, entertaining and devastatingly effective piano music of your generation?' (Gramophone)

'Hamelin's original etudes … as well as the character pieces that round out the disc, with their blend of tasteful lyricism and striking textures and harmonies, are as enjoyable as his homages. While brashly flaunting his influences (Gershwin, Poulenc, Rachmaninov) he sounds utterly individual. Of course, the composer makes all the technical difficulties sound easy to play in these vividly recorded performances' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A set of 12 Études that reveals Hamelin's immersion in the great virtuoso tradition … Hamelin the composer has the same kind of tact and imagination that Hamelin the pianist does … the virtuoso demands are daunting; but there's so much harmonic and contrapuntal interest in these works, so much sheer joie de vivre, such evident love for the instrument and its history, and such consistent wit, that even music lovers who disdain virtuoso excess are likely to be seduced … in its gentle luminosity, the [Theme and Variations] is the most touching work on the CD. Hamelin the pianist, of course, plays with his usual understated virtuosity—his unerring control of phrasing, articulation and dynamics; his ability to generate huge masses of sound without banging; his succulent legato; and, most important in the more thorny textures, his ability to give each contrapuntal line its own flavour … the engineering is first rate. A cause for celebration' (International Record Review)

'One of this extraordinary musician's finest achievements, indeed, one of the great solo piano recordings ever made' (Fanfare, USA)

'These are astounding pieces … with a hint of frenetic, sometimes out-and-out grotesque, madness. They bar no holds where technical extremes are concerned … these are the other individual works on this superlative disc cover anythign from grandiose Romanticism to 20th-century stride' (The Scotsman)
Although Toccata grottesca fortunately ended up having a personality of its own, it is actually modeled closely after a preexisting piece by another composer. This was a pure experiment on my part, and I am quite surprised at how I was able to adhere to the model without making the derivation obvious (at least I don’t think it’s obvious!), considering how similar the texture and form ended up being. Understandably, I don’t wish to reveal the identity of the original, and I am interested to know how skilful I was in masking the source of my inspiration. (Who is it that once said ‘originality is the art of concealing one’s source’?) It is not a terribly well-known work, although someone with a sufficiently broad knowledge of the piano literature might recognize it. I woke up one morning with the first eight bars of this étude fully formed in my head, and I immediately thought ‘hey, that sounds a little bit like …’. And so the piece was born.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010

La Toccata grottesca a heureusement fini par acquérir sa propre personnalité, mais elle est en fait modelée de près sur une pièce préexistante d’un autre compositeur. Ce fut une pure expérience de ma part et je suis très surpris de la façon dont j’ai pu adhérer au modèle sans rendre l’origine trop manifeste (du moins je ne pense pas qu’elle le soit!), si l’on considère à quelle similitude sont parvenues la texture et la forme. Naturellement, je ne souhaite pas révéler l’identité de l’original et j’aimerais bien savoir si j’ai vraiment réussi à masquer ma source d’inspiration (qui a dit un jour «l’originalité est l’art de dissimuler ses sources»?). Ce n’est pas une œuvre très célèbre, mais ceux qui ont une connaissance suffisamment approfondie de la littérature pianistique seront en mesure de la reconnaître. Un matin, je me suis réveillé avec les huit premières mesures de cette étude entièrement formées dans ma tête et j’ai immédiatement pensé: «Hé! ça ressemble un peu à …». C’est ainsi que cette pièce est née.

extrait des notes rédigées par Marc-André Hamelin © 2010
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Obwohl Toccata grottesca es erfreulicherweise am Ende zu einem eigenständigen Stück brachte, lehnt es sich doch in Wirklichkeit eng an eine bereits existierende Komposition eines anderen Komponisten an. Für mich war es ein echtes Experiment, und ich bin selbst sehr überrascht, wie ich es geschafft habe, mich an dem Vorbild zu orientieren, ohne die Herkunft zu verraten (ich hoffe wenigstens, dass ich sie nicht verrate!), wenn ich bedenke, wie ähnlich Aufbau und Form schließlich wurden. Verständlicherweise möchte ich die Identität des Originals nicht verraten, und ich würde gerne wissen, wie geschickt ich bei der Tarnung der Quelle meiner Inspiration vorgegangen bin. (Wer war es, der einmal gesagt hat: „Originalität ist die Kunst, seine Quelle zu verbergen“?) Es ist kein furchtbar bekanntes Werk, obwohl es jemand mit einer hinreichend breiten Kenntnis der Klavierliteratur vielleicht identifizieren könnte. Ich wachte eines Morgens auf, mit den ersten acht Takten dieser Etüde voll ausgeformt im Kopf, und dachte sofort: „He, das klingt ein wenig wie …“. Und das Stück war geboren.

aus dem Begleittext von Marc-André Hamelin © 2010
Deutsch: Ludwig Madlener

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