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Track(s) taken from CDA67789

Theme and variations 'Cathy's Variations'


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: 10 minutes 37 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)
The Theme and Variations is purely the work of a man in love, and it was inspired by my fiancée Cathy Fuller, my true soulmate, who fascinates me more with each passing day. As a matter of fact, the theme is meant to be a portrait of her, something that I’d never had the idea of attempting before. I will always remember the day I first played this piece for her as one of the happiest in my life.

Save perhaps for the slightly naughty inclusion of a meaningful French folksong somewhere in the texture during the coda, there are no motivic allusions or musical codes à la Robert and Clara. The music is as pure and loving as I knew how to make it, though in the instance of variation 3, the composer-pianist in me couldn’t resist welding the theme to an extended passage from the last movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in E major Op 109, one of Cathy’s favourite pieces, by the one composer she could never do without.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010

Le Thème et Variations est purement l’œuvre d’un homme amoureux, qui m’a été inspirée par ma fiancée, Cathy Fuller, ma véritable âme sœur, qui me fascine chaque jour davantage. En fait, le thème est censé être son portrait, ce que je n’avais jamais eu l’idée de faire auparavant. Je me souviendrai toujours du jour où je lui ai joué ce morceau pour la première fois comme de l’un des plus beaux de ma vie.

À l’exception peut-être de l’inclusion légèrement coquine d’une chanson traditionnelle française dans la texture de la coda, il n’y a aucune allusion à des motifs ou à des codes musicaux à la Robert et Clara. La musique est aussi pure et tendre que j’ai pu le faire, mais dans le cas de la variation 3, le pianiste-compositeur que je suis n’a pas pu résister à l’envie de souder le thème à un long passage du dernier mouvement de la Sonate en mi majeur, op. 109, de Beethoven, l’un des morceaux préférés de Cathy, du seul compositeur dont elle ne pourra jamais se passer.

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

Theme and Variations ist nichts als das Werk eines verliebten Mannes und wurde angeregt durch meine Lebensgefährtin Cathy Fuller, meine wahre Seelenverwandte, die mich jeden Tag mehr fasziniert. In der Tat soll das Thema ein Portrait von ihr sein, etwas, woran ich vorher nie im Traum gedacht hätte. Ich werde mich immer an den Tag erinnern, an dem ich dieses Stück zum ersten Mal für sie gespielt habe: es war einer der glücklichsten in meinem Leben.

Bis auf eine etwas kecke Einbeziehung eines vielsagenden französischen Volksliedes irgendwo in der Coda gibt es keine motivischen Anspielungen oder musikalischen Codes à la Robert und Clara. Die Musik ist so von Herzen und so liebevoll, wie ich sie überhaupt nur schreiben konnte, auch wenn z.B. in der 3. Variation der komponierende Pianist in mir nicht widerstehen konnte, das Thema mit einer längeren Passage aus dem letzten Satz von Beethovens Sonate in E-Dur op. 109 zu verschmelzen, einem der Lieblingsstücke von Cathy von dem Komponisten, ohne den sie nicht existieren könnte.

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

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