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Track(s) taken from CDA67951/3

Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing, BV296

1923; published in Book 9 of the Klavierübung, second edition, 1925

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
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Recording details: August 2012
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2013
Total duration: 19 minutes 49 seconds

Cover artwork: Materia (1912) by Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916)
Private Collection / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'Works where Busoni found his truest voice … Hamelin, playing with unfaltering lucidity and authority, achieves an astonishing triumph even by his exalted standards. As always, Hyperion has done him proud … an album that could never be bettered' (Gramophone)

'Marc-André Hamelin’s performance of the Busoni Piano Concerto for Hyperion is one of the finest ever recorded of that mammoth work, and now he has produced what is arguably the most important collection of the solo piano music since Geoffrey Douglas Madge’s epic six-disc survey for Philips in 1987 … All the most significant works are here … Hamelin includes some rarities Madge omitted, notably Busoni’s first foray into 'Red Indian’ music, the spellbinding Indianisches Erntelied (not published till 2001) … As to the performances, they are all you could hope from a player of such quality, laced with repertoire he might have been born to interpret. This is playing of a very high order, such as—despite the now numerous competing versions of the Elegies, Sonatinas and Toccata—one seldom hears. Hamelin is well-nigh ideal in sensitivity of phrasing, clarity of tone and delineation of voices, not to mention subtlety of pedalling … He reminds you that you are listening to one of history’s greatest piano composers, a philosopher of the piano to whose ear and mind the whole of European concert music seems to have been continually present. A fabulous set, almost beyond praise' (BBC Music Magazine)» More

'What comes through on listening to Hamelin is the underlying consistency of his approach over this music as a whole and, above all, the singularity of Busoni's musical vision and its relevance to composers and pianists almost a century on' (International Record Review)

'Few pianists have the time and technique to devote to music that is so little-known. Marc-André Hamelin is the shining exception. He demonstrated his Busoni credentials more than a decade ago with an outstanding account of the Piano Concerto … Hamelin handles all with great intelligence. There's a swagger when the music demands it, a fabulously refined sense of sonority and transparency when required. The technical challenges are surmounted so effortlessly that you begin to take the confidence of his playing for granted, when in fact it's a remarkable achievement' (The Guardian)» More

'The gift I'd choose for myself would be Marc-André Hamelin's magisterial three-disc survey of Busoni's later piano music—elusive and haunting material from a pivotal figure' (The Times)» More

'Hyperion does Busoni a great service in issuing this magnificent three-disc box. Those readers who know Busoni mainly (or only) via his transcriptions will have a whole new world revealed to them. Hamelin, one of today’s super-virtuosos but also a musician of the highest rank, seems to be the ideal interpreter, and is captured throughout in superb sound' (International Piano)» More

'This three-CD set presents Marc-André Hamelin, another formidable pianist, in Busoni works from the first quarter of the 20th century. The music draws from the heritage of Bach, Liszt and Wagner, while taking modern paths and anticipating atonality. Even when a particular piece seems amorphous or elusive, these elegies, fantasias, sonatinas and more are continually fascinating, especially in Mr. Hamelin’s commanding performances' (The New York Times)» More

'Hamelin's recent release of three CDs devoted to the late piano music of Ferruccio Busoni represents another milestone in an outstanding career … These three discs contain a number of pieces not previously recorded and also include a sampling of the numerous Bach arrangements Busoni is best known for. The programming is exemplary, the sound is alluring (from a Steinway piano recorded in London’s Henry Wood Hall) and the program notes are excellent. Bravo Hamelin!' (The Whole Note, Canada)» More

'L’impeccable virtuosité de Marc-André Hamelin se joue des pièges recélés par ces redoutables partitions; sa quête faustienne, à la fois analytique et méditée, assume la dimension philosophique quasi médiévale de cette alchimie sonore et nous en livre une référence absolue' (Classica, France)» More

'Marc André Hamelin ist derzeit unumstritten der König der Busoni-Interpreten. Triumphal meistert er die außerordentlichen technischen Schwierigkeiten und die komplexe Kontrapunktik der Musik Busonis' (Class Aktuell, Germany)» More

‘Marc-André Hamelin gelingt, alle Facetten in exzellenten Interpretationen darzustellen … seiner qualitativ hochwertigen Edition der Klaviermusik von Ferruccio Busoni dürfte deshalb über eine lange Zeit der Referenzstatus sicher sein' (Piano, Germany)» More
The Seven Short Pieces for the Cultivation of Polyphonic Playing (1923) show Busoni, more than ever, preoccupied with this important aspect of piano performance. The brief Preludietto starts out as a two-part invention featuring inversion of the first part but soon moves to a four-part texture. The much longer second piece has active accompaniment figurations based on an imitative treatment of a three-note motif. The two-page third piece focuses on double-note figurations limited to thirds and sixths in alternating hands. The fourth piece, the most impressive one, consists of a chorale melody, presented like a cantus firmus, in long notes in one hand against swift triplet figurations in the other. The fifth piece is a Preludio with many demisemiquaver figurations that, thanks to an anticipation of the theme, leads into the sixth, marked Nach Mozart. This is a transcription of the music given to the two Armed Men in Die Zauberflöte (Act 2, Scene 7); the accompaniment figuration in quavers is delicately restated quasi appoggiature in the last page. The seventh and final piece, entitled Mit Anwendung des III. Pedals (Steinway & Sons Sustaining-Pedal), is an early example of the use of the Steinway’s middle (or sostenuto) pedal, which Percy Grainger was to employ so often. The sonorities of the bottom one- or two-staff system are held by this pedal, while the contents of the top system can unfold without causing the music to become blurred. In some passages the pianist must depress the una corda pedal simultaneously.

from notes by Marc-André Roberge © 2013

Les Sept pièces courtes pour le développement du jeu polyphonique (1923) montrent Busoni, plus que jamais, préoccupé par cet aspect important de l’exécution pianistique. Le bref Preludietto commence comme une invention à deux voix avec inversion de la première partie, mais elle se transforme bientôt en texture à quatre voix. La deuxième pièce, beaucoup plus longue, fait appel à des figurations d’accompagnement actives et est basée sur un traitement imitatif d’un motif de trois notes. La troisième pièce, qui fait deux pages, met l’accent sur des figurations en doubles notes limitées aux tierces et aux sixtes et qui alternent entre les mains. La quatrième pièce, la plus impressionnante, consiste en une mélodie de choral, présentée comme un cantus firmus, en notes longues dans une main contre des figurations rapides de triolets dans l’autre. La cinquième pièce est un Preludio avec de nombreuses figurations en triples croches; grâce à une anticipation du thème, elle mène à la sixième, marquée Nach Mozart. Il s’agit d’une transcription de la musique confiée aux deux hommes armés dans Die Zauberflöte (acte 2, scène 7); la figuration d’accompagnement en croches est reprise délicatement quasi appoggiature dans la dernière page. La septième et dernière pièce, intitulée Mit Anwendung des III. Pedals (Steinway & Sons Sustaining-Pedal), est l’un des premiers exemples d’utilisation de la pédale du milieu (ou sostenuto) du Steinway, que Percy Grainger allait utiliser si souvent. Les sonorités du système inférieur d’une ou deux portées sont tenues par ladite pédale, tandis que le contenu du système supérieur peut évoluer sans que le tout ne s’embrouille. Dans certains passages le pianiste doit enfoncer en même temps la pédale una corda.

extrait des notes rédigées par Marc-André Roberge © 2013

In den Sieben kurzen Stücke zur Pflege des polyphonen Spiels (1923) ist Busoni mehr denn je beschäftigt mit diesem wichtigen Aspekt des Klavierspiels. Das kurze Preludietto beginnt als zweistimmige Invention mit einer Umkehrung des ersten Teils, verwandelt sich dann aber bald in eine vierstimmige Struktur. Das deutlich längere zweite Stück hat lebendige Begleitfigurationen, denen eine imitative Behandlung des Dreitonmotivs zugrunde liegt. Das zweiseitige dritte Stück legt den Schwerpunkt auf Terz- und Sextfigurationen in alternierenden Händen. Das vierte Stück ist das eindrucksvollste und besteht aus einer Choralmelodie, die wie ein Cantus firmus präsentiert wird—lange Noten in der einen Hand sind gegen rasche Triolen-Figurationen in der anderen gesetzt. Das fünfte Stück ist ein Preludio mit vielen Zweiunddreißigstel-Verzierungen, die dank der Vorwegnahme des Themas in das sechste hineinleitet, das mit Nach Mozart überschrieben ist. Es ist dies eine Bearbeitung der Musik, die die zwei Geharnischten in der Zauberflöte (2. Aufzug, 7. Szene) singen; die begleitenden Figurationen in Achteln werden auf der letzten Seite quasi appoggiature behutsam wiederholt. Das siebte und letzte Stück, das den Titel Mit Anwendung des III. Pedals (Steinway & Sons Sustaining-Pedal) trägt, ist ein frühes Beispiel für den Einsatz des mittleren (oder Sostenuto-) Pedals Steinways, das Percy Grainger so oft verwenden sollte. Die Klänge des unteren Notensystems (bzw. der beiden unteren Notensysteme) werden durch dieses Pedal gehalten, während die Musik des oberen Systems sich entfalten kann, ohne dass sie dabei undeutlich wird. In einigen Passagen muss der Pianist gleichzeitig das Una-corda-Pedal verwenden.

aus dem Begleittext von Marc-André Roberge © 2013
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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