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Albéniz: Iberia, La vega, etc / Marc-André Hamelin

Album Summary

>Albéniz, Isaac : Iberia Suite, for piano, B. 47
>Albéniz, Isaac : La Vega, fantaisie espagnole for piano, B. 46 (for the incomplete suite, "Alhambra")
>Albéniz, Isaac : Yvonne en visite!, pieces (2) for piano, B. 48
>Albéniz, Isaac : Espana (Souvenirs), pieces (2) for piano, B. 45
>Albéniz, Isaac : Navarra, for piano in A flat major, B. 49
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The twelve extended pieces which make up Albeniz's 'Iberia' are not only the composer's greatest work, but also the greatest piano work to come out of Spain. The superabundance of the writing also makes the cycle one of the supreme virtuoso challenges. Hemelin again achieves the almost physically impossible with seeming ease. Albnizs multiple layers are finely balanced, and apparently awkward textures come to life in a lucid acoustic with pace, grace and a constant sense of dance. BBC Music Magazine

'Here is the most immaculate, effortless and refined of allIberias. Where others fight to stay afloat, Marc-André Hamelin rides the crest of every formidable wave with nonchalant ease and poetry ... Hamelin's Albéniz [on the other hand], proudly but nonchalantly, raises a new and astonishing standard' (Gramophone Magazine)

'Hamelin again achieves the almost physically impossible with seeming ease. Albéniz's multiple layers are finely balanced, and apparently awkward textures come to life in a lucid acoustic with pace, grace and a constant sense of dance' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Albéniz infused his writing with the flamboyant rhythms and anguished melodies of flamenco, and Hamelin captures the authentic accent while dispatching the notes with astonishing technical bravura and outstanding musicianship. He may not replace de Larrocha, but all who love this music will want to add his interpretations to their collections' (The Sunday Times)

'Mr Hamelin commands an enormous range of touch and expression. He is as comfortable in the languid meanderings of Evocación as in the pointed dance rhythms of Rondeña and he modulates between such extremes with utter fluency. As part of this far-reaching sensibility, Mr Hamelin is always alert to atmosphere, which is everything in this music' (New York Times)

'Simply put, this is now the recording of choice. Hamelin has a reputation as a super-virtuoso - 'jaw-dropping' is one of the favourite adjectives used to describe his technique. It's certainly a well-deserved reputation ... Hamelin uses his unparalleled technique not to revel in the music's difficulties but to transcend them; and at his best he offers artistic subtlety where lesser pianists offer little more than gymnastic sweat and strain' (International Record Review)

'There's plenty of technical brilliance to marvel at in Marc-André Hamelin's performances. In quieter, slower music - the very first piece Evocacion is one instance - he offers a lovely, appositely dark-hued singing tone along with an array of delicate shades' (Evening Standard)

'Rarely has this music's intricate patternings been so subtly exposed, and the recording captures Hamelin's distinctive sonority to a tee' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Marc-André Hamelin's [recordings] all attest to a virtuoso technique and an inquiring musical mind second to none on today's concert, recital, and recording platforms. He brings no less in artistic commitment to Albéniz and to this kaleidoscopically colourful music. Strongly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'Marc-André Hamelin has a wonderful feel for this music. He has a rhythmic play and sense of chord-balancing that enriches the textures. His most beautiful and lyrical playing occurs in the languid, intimate passages, where one is carried away from the everyday' (American Record Guide)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Here's the most immaculate, effortless and refined of all Iberias. Where others fight to stay afloat, Marc-André Hamelin rides the crest of every formidable wave with nonchalant ease and poetry. Did Albéniz, as Rubinstein once claimed, need a helping hand in Iberia, simplifying textures for greater clarity, brilliance and accessibility? Hamelin's musical grace mocks the very question. His 'Evocación', audaciously free and perfumed, makes you hang on every note, and although characteristically cool, elegant and supple, he's true to the heart of Albéniz's incomparable tapestry of southern Spain. Try 'Almeria' and you'll hear playing of jewelled perfection, a mesmerising dreamworld rudely interrupted by 'Lavapiés', where every one of the composer's torrents of notes is made crystal clear.

Again, when has 'Málaga' been played with greater fluency and imaginative delicacy? Perhaps such playing is a compensation for Rubinstein's legendary but never recorded performance.

Certainly in its suppleness and transparency it has a Chopinesque rather than Lisztian bias, but Hamelin gives us all the notes and he's recorded in sound as natural and refined as his playing.

After Iberia there's La Vega, inspired by the plains surrounding Granada, by a 'land of flowers and sapphire skies'. This surely ranks among the greatest recordings of a Spanish piano work. Limpid, haunting and evocative, it resolves every complexity in rapt poetry. For added measure he gives us 'Yvonne en visite', a hilarious imitation of a pianist who stumbles from note to note, tenacious but incompetent. Finally, there is 'Navarra', complete with William Bolcom's coda, a lengthy and witty résumé and cadenza rather than de Sévérac's brief conclu- Alain Instrumental 15 sion. Comparison with Larrocha's benchmark Albéniz is inevitable. But Hamelin's is radically different in both execution and character, and she, for all her magisterial command, is no match for him in musical grace and fluency. Hamelin's Albéniz proudly but nonchalantly raises a new and astonishing standard.



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Works Details

>Isaac Albéniz (Composer) (1860 - 1909) : Iberia Suite, for piano, B. 47
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (04/07/2004-04/08/2004)
  • Running Time: 80 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1905-1909

>Isaac Albéniz (Composer) (1860 - 1909) : La Vega, fantaisie espagnole for piano, B. 46 (for the incomplete suite, "Alhambra")
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (08/25/2004-08/26/2004)
  • Running Time: 16 min. 5 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1897

>Isaac Albéniz (Composer) (1860 - 1909) : Yvonne en visite!, pieces (2) for piano, B. 48
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (08/25/2004-08/26/2004)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: circa 1908

>Isaac Albéniz (Composer) (1860 - 1909) : España (Souvenirs), pieces (2) for piano, B. 45
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (08/25/2004-08/26/2004)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1896-1897

>Isaac Albéniz (Composer) (1860 - 1909) : Navarra, for piano in A flat major, B. 49
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Notes: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (08/25/2004-08/26/2004)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1909-1912