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Track(s) taken from CDA67706

Berceuse in D flat major, Op 57

1843; originally entitled Variantes; published in 1845; dedicated to Mme Elise Gavard

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Recording details: March 2008
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: January 2009
Total duration: 4 minutes 27 seconds

Cover artwork: Reclining Female Nude (c1844/5) by Jean-François Millet (1814-1875)
Musée d'Orsay, Paris / Peter Willi / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Stephen Hough (piano)
Lívia Rév (piano)
Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Emmanuel Despax (piano)


'Though Hamelin has made many fabulous discs, particularly in repertoire of superhuman virtuosity, this is one of his very finest achievements to date' (Gramophone)

'Hamelin's impeccable pianism allows him to make light work of the most demanding passages. The first movement [Third Sonata] is as imposing as you would expect of a player renowned for his staggering virtuosity, but a solid framework also underpins moments of wonderful delicacy. Hamelin builds the Second Sonata just as unerringly, producing a poetic and passionate performance that is finally carried off on a spectral wind … Hyperion's new release adds up to a hugely satisfying Chopin recital' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Hamelin's fabulous, transcendental technique takes all the challenges of the treacherous keyboard writing in its stride … Hamelin's pianissimos have a wonderful purity and definition' (The Guardian)

'In the Op 27 Nocturnes his hesitations are masterly, while the Berceuse, the seductive opening track, shimmers with pensive beauty … an excellent excursion into standard repertoire for this adventurous pianist' (The Times)

'Chopin’s second and third piano sonatas lie at the heart of the Romantic piano literature, and Hamelin, a poet among virtuosos, brings sensibility and a brilliant technique in equal measure to this oft-recorded music … this is the Chopin of a true Romantic, spellbinding at its (considerable) best and superbly recorded' (The Sunday Times)

'This is Chopin playing of a superior kind in which a musician of penetrating intellect is able to observe every detail of these miraculous scores … this is a fine example of supreme technical skill at the service of musical poetry' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hamelin turns on the nightlight, emphasizing the music's poetry as Chopin's nearly elfin lyricism is the engine behind his music's unearthly beauty. Hamelin inhabits this music utterly, revealing a purely aesthetic ear that is not usually attributed to him. He allows each piece to unfold organically while shaping its broad outlines with a seductive lyrical poetry. Hamelin unfurls Chopin's elegant filigreed lines with ease while never losing the music's inner logic … these are world class Chopin performances' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'It has been a delight to see Marc-André Hamelin, who long explored the bravura fringes of the piano literature, work his way deeper into the standard repertory. The second volume of his survey of Haydn piano sonatas for Hyperion could just as easily have been listed here. Chopin, meanwhile, offers full scope not only for his bravura impulses (which he indulges lustily) but also for an astonishing lyrical gift that increasingly comes to light. The opening Berceuse in D flat is melting' (The New York Times)
A few months before he completed the B minor Sonata, Chopin put the finishing touches to his Berceuse Op 57. The original title was Variantes, and this describes its final form rather well: a set of sixteen short variations on an ostinato ground (there is a sketch of the work that lays this structure out rather graphically, even numbering the ‘variantes’). Another interesting detail here is that Chopin originally intended to plunge straight into the melody, and only added the two-bar genre-defining introduction at a late stage, quite possibly at the moment he changed the title from Variantes to Berceuse. In some ways the work functions rather like a set of baroque ‘divisions’, but this scarcely does justice to the highly original treatment of the ornamental line. The key point is that the curve of complexity (ever more rapid filigree) remains divorced not just from the underlying harmonic progression (a simple repeating cycle) but also from the dynamic shape (a stable level, remaining in low dynamics throughout). What is original here is that the shape of the music—its sense of departure and return—is created almost entirely through texture and sonority. It is not hard to see why Debussy was so interested in the music of Chopin.

from notes by Jim Samson © 2009

Quelques mois avant d’achever sa Sonate en si mineur, Chopin mit la dernière main à sa Berceuse op. 57, dont le titre original (Variantes) donnait une assez bonne idée de sa forme définitive: un corpus de seize courtes variations sur une basse en ostinato (une esquisse dispose cette structure d’une manière assez graphique, allant jusqu’à numéroter les «variantes»). Autre détail intéressant, Chopin entendait initialement plonger droit dans la mélodie et ce fut tardivement, sans doute au moment du changement de titre, qu’il ajouta les deux mesures introductives définissant le genre. À certains égards, l’œuvre fonctionne un peu comme une série de «divisions» baroques, mais cette comparaison ne rend guère justice au traitement fort original de la ligne ornementale: la courbe de complexité (un filigrane toujours plus rapide) reste coupée non seulement de la progression harmonique sous-jacente (un simple cycle périodique), mais de la forme dynamique (un niveau stable, toujours dans les graves). L’originalité ici, c’est que la forme de la musique—l’impression de départ et de retour qu’elle donne—vient presque exclusivement de la texture et de la sonorité. On voit bien pourquoi Debussy s’intéressa tant à la musique de Chopin.

extrait des notes rédigées par Jim Samson © 2009
Français: Hypérion

Wenige Monate bevor er die h-Moll Sonate fertigstellte, beendete Chopin seine Berceuse op. 57. Der ursprüngliche Titel des Werks lautete Variantes, was auch die endgültige Form passend charakterisieren würde: es handelt sich um einen Zyklus von 16 kurzen Variationen über einen Ostinato-Bass (es ist eine Skizze des Werks überliefert, in der die Struktur deutlich angegeben ist und wo die „Variantes“ sogar durchnummeriert sind). Ein weiteres interessantes Detail hierbei ist, dass Chopin ursprünglich direkt in die Melodie eintauchen wollte, und erst später die zweitaktige, genreverleihende Einleitung anfügte, möglicherweise geschah das zum selben Zeitpunkt, als er auch den Titel von Variantes zu Berceuse änderte. In mancherlei Hinsicht ist dieses Werk mit barocken Figurationen vergleichbar, doch wird das der hochoriginellen Behandlung der verzierten Linie kaum gerecht. Das entscheidende Charakteristikum ist, dass die Komplexitätskurve (immer schneller und filigraner) nicht nur von dem darunter liegenden harmonischen Fortschreiten (ein schlichter, sich wiederholender Zyklus) sondern auch von der dynamischen Gestalt (ein stabiler Pegel, der durchweg niedrig bleibt) völlig getrennt bleibt. Was hierbei so originell ist, ist, dass die Gestalt der Musik—der Eindruck von Aufbruch und Rückkehr—fast ausschließlich durch Struktur und Klang erzeugt wird. Es ist nicht schwer nachzuvollziehen, warum Debussy sich so für die Musik Chopins interessierte.

aus dem Begleittext von Jim Samson © 2009
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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