Dan Cairns
The Sunday Times
February 2024

There are many tasks we expect variations on a musical theme to perform (modulation, augmentation, experimentation, illumination), but when the act comes close to desecration the results can be appealingly transgressive. That’s certainly the case with Hamelin’s final variation on Paganini’s much visited 24 caprices, in which the Canadian pianist-composer, nodding to Liszt, suddenly strong-arms the Italian’s La campanella into the picture, with results that suggest a hotel-lobby ivory-tickler being taken over by the ghost of Les Dawson. Yet facility and keyboard wizardry never quite yield to anarchy on an ensnaring collection of Hamelin’s piano pieces that are the musical equivalent of a trainspotter’s paradise, full of musical quotations both scholarly and mischievous.