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Alkan: Concerto for solo piano, etc / Marc-André Hamelin

Album Summary

>Alkan, Charles-Valentin : Concerto, for solo piano in G sharp minor (Etudes dans tous les tons mineurs Nos. 8-10), Op. 39/8-10
>Alkan, Charles-Valentin : Recueil de Chants Book 3 (6), for piano, Op. 65
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"[Hamelin's] early 1990s recording [of Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano] for Music and Arts set reference standards for technical finesse, sustaining power, and stylish elegance. If anything, his highly anticipated Hyperion remake, recorded in February 2006, is even better. For starters, the slightly distant yet lustrous, detailed sonics ideally suit the music's orchestral impact and capture the full scope of Hamelin's multi-leveled virtuosity. More importantly, the pianist's interpretation has become internalized to the point where no boundaries exist between composer and performerNo piano lover should miss this absolutely transcendent, watershed release." - Classics Today (10/10)

'A performance of the Concerto of such brilliance and lucidity that one can only listen in awe and amazement. Scaling even the most ferocious hurdles with yards to spare, he is blessedly free to explore the very heart of Alkan's bewildering interplay of austerity and monstrous elaboration ... You can only marvel at such a unique mix of blazing if nonchalantly deployed virtuosity and poetic conviction ... All of this is superly recorded and presented, prompting some not unreasonable conjecture: if Liszt feared Alkan's mastery as a pianist he may well have feared Hamelin's' (Gramophone)

'The sheer keyboard brilliance of Hamelin's playing is exceptional. The breathtaking clarity with which he articulates even the most ferocious passages, while unerringly projecting melodic shapes that are often obscured under welters of notes, never fails to dazzle, and the way in which he sustains the huge first movement of the Concerto so that each discursive paragraph seems a natural consequence of what precedes it is a triumph of pure musical will' (The Guardian *****)

'Hamelin's playing here is as breathtaking as ever - it is hard to believe that a lot of it is humanly possible - but, more than simply a dazzling panoply of notes, it conveys a deep musical and expressive range' (Daily Telegraph)

'Hamelin deserves an Olympic gold medal for this extreme musical sport: I doubt that any other living pianist could carry off the work with such secure bedazzlement, not to mention infusing it with refulgent tone and downright charm' (Classic FM Magazine *****)

'This intelligent and magnificently-played programme, displaying contrasting sides of the composer's personality ... The Concerto is an engrossing musical journey, ranging from hushed chorale textures to the dizzying cascades of notes that make an orchestra entirely superfluous ... The performance is stunning. Aside from over a decade's more experience, Hamelin now has the benefit of Hyperion's stunning recorded sound ... As for the performance, if anyone can play it better, expect to see the devil as their agent. It is not simply that Hamelin can negotiate the ferocious technical challenges. Like a great ballet dancer, he maintaines a clarity and beauty of line, so that the shape of the music is always clear and seems natural, however unnatural the demands made by Alkan ... This is playing of the highest order in music that should be at the heart of the Romantic repertoire' (BBC Music Magazine)

'One of the supreme examples of pianistic agility in the catalog ... The nocturnal slow movement is especially powerful here, its harmonies superbly weighted, its more dramatic moments tinged with a subtle melodramatic chill ... Hyperion's sound is excellent too. Highest recommendation' (Fanfare, USA)

'No piano lover should miss this absolutely transcendent, watershed release' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Bien que l'oeuvre soit extraite d'un recueil d'Etudes, Hamelin n'en fait pas une démonstration technique; il l'aborde avec infiniment de poésie, faite d'inflexions bien senties et de nuances subtiles. De la part d'un pianiste dont on connaît l'enthousiasme pour la délirante inspiration du compositeur, cela semblerait presque naturel... mais cette évidence ne doit pas faire oublier avec quelle noble allure l'interprète se joue des innombrables pièges que pose la partition ... Quant aux l'autres... ils écouteront sans doute à genoux 'intégralité de ce CD' (Diapason)'The Alkan concerto is played to stunning perfection. When you listen to Hamelin play the most horrendously tricky keyboard acrobatics, it's as natural as being in a Ferrari with Michael Schumacher as your driver - exciting, but you know you're in good hands. We know Hamelin can not go wrong' (Pianist Magazine)

'It is an axiom of classical recording that there is no such thing as a Hamelin disc that is anything less than compelling and fascinating. He is the most impressive combination of technique, intellect and fearlessness ... The music here is wild, untrammelled and gorgeous and always so dauntingly played that, at times, it defies belief' (Buffalo News)

'Incredibly, Hamelin not only holds this massive work together but also makes it a satisfying musical experience ... Hamelin scores with immaculate pianism and, in the lyric pieces, a deceptive simplicity' (Absolute Sound, USA)

'It's great stuff and it's almost impossible to play. Of course, to Marc-André Hamelin everything is possible; he sails through the fiendish passages with incredible ease and panache. The man is not only a world-class artist but possibly the greatest-ever acrobat of the keyboard. The speed, articulation, and clarity of his finger work are simply beyond belief, and at the same time the music keeps singing regardless of the complications' (The Audio Critic, USA)


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Works Details

>Alkan, Charles-Valentin : Concerto, for solo piano in G sharp minor (Études dans tous les tons mineurs Nos. 8-10), Op. 39/8-10
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, England (02/09/2006/02/10/2006)
  • Running Time: 49 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1846-1857

>Alkan, Charles-Valentin : Recueil de Chants Book 3 (6), for piano, Op. 65
  • Performer: Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1866