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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Franz Liszt - Grand Romantic Virtuoso (Marc-André Hamelin)


Composer: Franz Liszt
  1. Réminiscences de Norma, S. 394 (after Bellini)
  2. 3 Études de concert, S. 144: No. 2  in F minor "La Leggierezza"
  3. 3 Études de concert, S. 144: No. 3 in D flat major "Un sospiro"
  4. 2 Polonaises, S. 223: No. 2 in E major
  5. Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S. 173: 3. Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude
  6. Réminiscences de Don Juan, S. 418 (after Mozart)

Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Date: 1992
Label: Music & Arts



PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: ****

If you want to hear how Hamelin played before he became a byword for keyboard virtuosity and shrewd Hyperion signed him up exclusively, then this programme will provide you with the answer. Recorded in 1991 (the date also of the booklet, which has not been changed in any way since the disc was first issued in 1992), the performances transcend the studio environment. Every problem has been solved with glittering ease; indeed, the greater the difficulties, the more it provokes Hamelin into providing ever more transparent and thrilling responses. Sensibly, he never digs deeper than the music merits, yet, nevertheless, what can seem glib and theatrical in other hands here sounds important and weighty. There is not a recording of the Norma fantasy to match this one. Bolet, magisterial and powerful, plods home a full four minutes after Hamelin, whose ecstatic delivery of the closing theme from the opera is incredibly moving – goose bumps, spine tingles, the lot. By contrast, La leggierezza demonstrates Hamelin’s phenomenal dexterity at pianissimo, Bénédiction de Dieu his innate understanding of and empathy with the Abbé. In the Don Juan Réminiscences (given with the usual cut before the final presto section) Hamelin is simply electrifying, summoning up the spirit of Simon Barere but with far more accurate and detailed attention to the score. Even those who find barnstorming Liszt unbearably trivial and vulgar must surely acknowledge the extraordinary pianism of the then 30-year old Canadian.

-- Jeremy Nicholas, BBC Music Magazine

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Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a prolific 19th-century Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, organist, philanthropist, author, nationalist and a Franciscan tertiary. Liszt gained renown in Europe for his virtuosic skill as a pianist and in the 1840s he was considered to be the greatest pianist of all time. As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent composers of the "New German School". Some of his most notable musical contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form, and making radical departures in harmony.


Marc-André Hamelin (born September 5, 1961 in Montreal, Quebec) is a Canadian virtuoso pianist and composer. Hamelin is recognized worldwide for the originality and technical brilliance of his performances of the classic repertoire. He has made recordings of a wide variety of composers with the Hyperion label. He is well known for his attention to lesser-known composers especially of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and for performing works by pianist-composers. Hamelin has also composed several works, including a set of piano études in all of the minor keys.


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  2. Thanks!
    Have been looking for this for a while

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