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Track(s) taken from CDA67789

Étude No 12 in A flat minor 'Prelude and Fugue'

1986; 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: 6 minutes 9 seconds

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

Other recordings available for download

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)


'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 Prelude and Fugue, the final étude in the collection, was actually my first sizeable compositional effort. At the time of writing, I did not have a complete set of études in mind; moreover, the fugue was written first, and it was only natural that I should later preface it, in accordance with a long-established precedent. Retrospectively, it seems to me that the fugue in particular has a lot in common with the tarantella-like movement of Busoni’s Piano Concerto, which I was learning at the time. The work was never meant to become such a monstrous agglomeration of cruel virtuosic devices; I simply wanted to explore some of the possibilities of the rather silly fugue subject. Once started, the piece started going pretty much on its own, in directions I hadn’t anticipated.

I experienced a rather uneasy moment when, some time after completing the piece, I came across Sergei Taneyev’s Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor, Op 29. I was alarmed to see that there were some startling similarities between the two fugues: same metre, same key (enharmonically), same pianistic terrains, and a very similar fugue subject. Please be assured that if this were other than mere coincidence, I would be honest enough to admit it!

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010

Le Prélude et Fugue, dernière étude de ce recueil, a été en fait mon premier travail important en matière de composition. À l’époque où je l’ai écrit, je n’envisageais pas un cycle complet d’études; en outre, la fugue a été écrite en premier et il était bien normal que je la préface ensuite conformément à un précédent établi depuis longtemps.

Rétrospectivement, il me semble que la fugue, en particulier, présente beaucoup de points communs avec le mouvement dans le style d’une tarentelle du Concerto pour piano de Busoni, que je travaillais à l’époque. Cette œuvre n’a jamais été destinée à devenir une accumulation aussi considérable de cruels procédés de virtuosité; j’ai simplement voulu explorer certaines possibilités du sujet un peu banal de la fugue. Une fois commencée, la pièce est partie un peu toute seule dans des directions que je n’avais pas prévues.

J’ai connu un moment assez difficile lorsque, quelque temps après l’avoir terminée, je suis tombé sur le Prélude et Fugue en sol dièse mineur, op. 29, de Taneïev. J’ai constaté avec frayeur qu’il y avait des similitudes saisissantes entre les deux fugues: même mètre, même tonalité (sur le plan enharmonique), mêmes terrains pianistiques et un sujet de fugue tout à fait comparable. Soyez assuré que si ce n’était pas une pure coïncidence, je l’admettrais en toute honnêteté!

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

Prelude and Fugue, die letzte Etüde der Reihe, war eigentlich meine erste größere kompositorische Leistung. In der Zeit, als ich das Werk schrieb, dachte ich noch nicht an eine komplette Sammlung von Etüden. Außerdem entstand zuerst die Fuge, und dann war es nur logisch, dass ich ihr später eine Einleitung voran stellte, gemäß einem altbewährten Vorbild.

Nachträglich scheint mir die Fuge eine Menge gemeinsam zu haben mit dem Tarantella-artigen Satz aus Busonis Klavierkonzert, das ich damals gerade einstudierte. Eigentlich sollte das Werk nie zu einer so monströsen Ansammlung virtuoser Kniffe werden; ich wollte einfach nur einige Möglichkeiten des recht eigenartigen Fugenthemas testen. Aber einmal in Gang gekommen, entwickelte das Werk eine starke Eigendynamik in Richtungen, die ich nicht voraus sehen konnte.

Einige Zeit nach der Vollendung des Stückes hatte ich ein ziemlich unangenehmes Erlebnis, als mir Sergej Tanejews Präludium und Fuge in gis-Moll, op. 29 in die Hände fiel. Ich erschrak, als ich sah, dass da einige verblüffende Ähnlichkeiten zwischen den beiden Fugen vorhanden waren: derselbe Takt, dieselbe Tonart (enharmonisch), dieselben pianistischen Anforderungen und ein sehr ähnliches Fugenthema. Seien Sie versichert, dass ich, wäre das nichts als reiner Zufall, ehrlich genug wäre, es zuzugeben!

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

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