Sunday, May 7, 2017

Frédéric Chopin - Piano Sonata No. 3; etc. (Charles Richard-Hamelin)


Composer: Frédéric Chopin
  1. Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58: I. Allegro maestoso
  2. Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58: II. Scherzo: Molto vivace
  3. Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58: III. Largo
  4. Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58: IV. Finale: Presto non tanto; Agitato
  5. Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major, Op. 61
  6. Nocturne in B major, Op. 62 No. 1
  7. Nocturne in E major, Op. 62 No. 2

Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano
Date: 2015
Label: Analekta




A welcome newcomer to the seriously over-crowded international piano scene, Charles Richard-Hamelin (French-Canadian but no relation to Marc-André) is clearly a musician-pianist rather than the other way around. Not that he is in any way deficient as a pianist. Far from it. Fluent, multi-faceted and tonally seductive, he is a technician of exceptional elegance and sophistication. Part of that sophistication is his refusal to dazzle. Technique is at all times put to strictly musical ends. His playing repeatedly put me in mind of Chopin’s idol, Mozart, who prized the twin virtues of ‘taste and feeling’and said of piano-playing that it should ‘flow like oil’.

The playing here – quite strikingly in the outer movements of the B minor Sonata – is blessedly free of that metre-driven angularity and stasis that have increasingly beset performances over the past half-century. Melodic inflection is curvaceous, natural and discreetly sensuous; the tonal palette is unfailingly refined (a prime requirement in Chopin), and the pervasive polyphony of Chopin’s textures is eminently clear but never ostentatious. That said, Richard-Hamelin is not, on present evidence, a ‘big’ pianist, though the Third Sonata and Polonaise-Fantasy in A flat are some of Chopin’s biggest works: I feel an insufficiency of large-scale momentum and binding connections; I miss a truly epic sense of drama. Too many sentences; not enough paragraphs. But time is on his side.

-- Jeremy Siepmann, BBC Music Magazine


Frédéric Chopin (22 February or 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for the solo piano. He gained and has maintained renown worldwide as one of the leading musicians of his era, whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation". Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars, his association (if only indirect) with political insurrection, his love life and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era in the public consciousness. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying degrees of historical accuracy.


Charles Richard-Hamelin (born 17 July 1989 in Lanaudière, Canada) is a Canadian concert pianist. A former student of McGill University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 2011, Richard-Hamelin concluded his master's at Yale School of Music in 2013. After reaching the final stage in important piano competitions held in Montreal and Seoul, he had a distinguished participation at the XVII International Chopin Piano Competition (Warsaw, 2015), where he received the second prize and the Krystian Zimerman Prize for the best performance of a Sonata.


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