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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ludwig van Beethoven; George Enescu; Frédéric Chopin - Piano Works (Charles Richard-Hamelin)


Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven; George Enescu; Frédéric Chopin
  1. Beethoven - Two Rondos for piano, Op. 51: No. 1 in C major
  2. Beethoven - Two Rondos for piano, Op. 51: No. 2 in G major
  3. Enescu - Suite No. 2 for piano, Op. 10: I. Toccata
  4. Enescu - Suite No. 2 for piano, Op. 10: II. Sarabande
  5. Enescu - Suite No. 2 for piano, Op. 10: III. Pavane
  6. Enescu - Suite No. 2 for piano, Op. 10: IV. Bourrée
  7. Chopin - Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 47
  8. Chopin - Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 55 No. 2
  9. Chopin - Introduction and Rondo in E-flat major, Op. 16
  10. Chopin - Polonaise No. 6 in A-flat major ("Heroic"), Op. 53

Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano
Date: 2016
Label: Analekta



A French-Canadian pianist named Hamelin, but not that one and no relation. Charles Richard-Hamelin (silver medallist at the 2015 Chopin Competition) was 26 years old when he recorded this live recital and the maturity of his playing is impressive. So too is the scope of his recital, which avoids the obvious. In Beethoven’s Op 51 Rondos he is particularly responsive to the Second Rondo’s more capricious moments, while its close, with a sudden outbreak of high spirits, is delightful.

The Chopin sequence, which closes the disc, mixes the familiar and lesser known. His take on the Third Ballade is refreshingly Classical, if not perhaps displaying as much personality as it might have done. On the other hand, his way with the early Introduction and Rondo, balancing delicacy and sinew without a hint of sentimentality, is very telling. The applause after this is startling as the audience have been largely silent up to that point. And in the concluding Polonaise he finds plenty to talk about without merely obsessing over its rhythm.

But the highlight for me was Enescu’s Second Suite. I have to confess this was new to be – but what a piece! Enescu is still underrated as a composer, his huge gifts as violinist, pianist, conductor and educator meaning that he lived many more lives than most of us could imagine. He wrote the Suite for a competition in 1903 and it sounds like a piano arrangement of a symphonic work, so vividly is it coloured. The opening Toccata is suffused with the sounds of bells and Richard-Hamelin is alive to its sense of joy. In the Sarabande he becomes utterly inward, relishing its more urgent inner section, spiced with whole-tone harmonies. Everywhere, he displays a strong sense of narrative, making him a compelling storyteller. The most inward point of the Suite comes with a flickering Pavane, which conjures the sound world of the Debussy of Pour le piano. Richard-Hamelin fully embraces the celebratory nature of the closing Bourrée, contrasting fanfares with brilliant post-Lisztian passagework. Captured in a warmly immediate recording, Richard-Hamelin is a welcome new voice on the pianistic firmament.

-- Harriet Smith, Gramophone


Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis and an opera, Fidelio. Beethoven is acknowledged as one of the giants of classical music.


George Enescu (19 August 1881 – 4 May 1955) was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher, regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century and Romania's most important musician. He was the youngest student ever admitted to the Vienna Conservatory at the age of seven. Many of Enescu's works were influenced by Romanian folk music, his most popular compositions being the two Romanian Rhapsodies. He was also a noted violin teacher. Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, Serge Blanc, Ida Haendel and Joan Field were among his pupils.


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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