Piano Music (Incls Piano Sonata No 2, Fantasie in C major & Etudes symphoniques)

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SCHUMANN
Piano Music (Incls Piano Sonata No 2, Fantasie in C major & Etudes symphoniques)
Marc-Andre Hamelin (piano)

[ Hyperion / CD ]

Release Date: Saturday 24 February 2001

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"A dazzling technician fuses technical dexterity and poetry to compelling effect."
Gramophone May 2001

'For me the outstanding performance is the great C major Fantasie…so beautifully voiced and phrased I can only say that it moved me more deeply than any I have heard for a long time'
- Gramophone

'Hamelin brings a transcendental technique and passionate romantic temperament to music that, more often than not, is the preserve of pianistic intellectuals and poets. But his performances of the great C major Fantasy and the Symphonic Studies are not merely exercises in virtuosity. His astounding feats of dexterity and dazzling spectrum of colour are constantly put to the service of the music. This is freshly conceived Schumann, light and brilliant in bravura passages - the concluding Allegro brillante of the Etudes rarely sounds so joyous - yet never lightweight in reflective music: the slow third movement of the Fantasy is a poignantly poetic meditation, while the lovely Andantino of the Sonata glows with an entirely appropriate inward emotional intensity. Hamelin's Schumann ideally combines the extrovert and introspective characteristics of this glorious music. Highly recommended.'
- The Sunday Times

This disc contains Schumann's three greatest abstract works for piano (as opposed to his suites of character pieces such as Carnival and Kinderszenen), including the Fantasy Op 17 - arguably his finest piano work. Marc-André Hamelin has lived with these works for many years, and has made something of a speciality of the C major Fantasy, which he has played many times in concert. These performances have been widely praised, and we are delighted that this studio recording captures all the poetry and Romantic feeling of his live performances.
Schumann was, of course, primarily a lyricist of the piano, but that did not stop him writing some of the most fearsomely difficult passages in the repertoire: the coda to the second movement of the Fantasy is an infamous example, as are many of the variations in the Etudes symphoniques. Nevertheless, Marc-André Hamelin's legendary virtuosity allows him complete freedom to concentrate on the music rather than merely on the technical challenges. His now familiar hallmarks of refinement of tone and clarity of line, coupled with his warmth of expression, enable him to communicate Schumann's poetry with a rare poise and passion. All in all, this is yet another outstanding recording to add to Hamelin's impressive discography for Hyperion.

This outstanding French-Canadian virtuoso may have sacrificed a high international profile by recording exclusively for the independent label Hyperion, but it has enabled him to explore fascinating byways of the piano repertoire largely undisturbed by pianists who record for the multinationals. Hamelin has recorded concertos by Alkan, Henselt, Korngold and Joseph Marx, albums devoted to the music of Catoire, Reger and Roslavets, and an award-winning set devoted to Godowsky's fiendishly difficult studies on Chopin's Etudes. But his Hyperion discography also includes Liszt and now this superb Schumann recital of two much-recorded masterpieces and the marginally less frequently encountered G minor sonata, Op 22. Hamelin brings a transcendental technique and passionate romantic temperament to music that, more often than not, is the preserve of pianistic intellectuals and poets. But his performances of the great C major Fantasy and the Symphonic Studies are not merely exercises in virtuosity. His astounding feats of dexterity and dazzling spectrum of colour are constantly put to the service of the music. This is freshly conceived Schumann, light and brilliant in bravura passages - the concluding Allegro brillante of the Etudes rarely sounds so joyous - yet never lightweight in reflective music: the slow third movement of the Fantasy is a poignantly poetic meditation, while the lovely Andantino of the Sonata glows with an entirely appropriate inward emotional intensity. Hamelin's Schumann ideally combines the extrovert and introspective characteristics of this glorious music. Highly recommended.

Tracks:

Fantasie in C major Op 17 [32'51]
Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen [12'59]
Mässig: Durchaus energisch [7'49]
Langsam getragen: Durchaus leise zu halten [11'59]

Piano Sonata No 2 in G minor Op 22 [17'47]
So rasch wie möglich [5'45]
Andantino (getragen) [5'02]
Scherzo: Sehr rasch und markiert [1'37]
Rondo: Presto [5'19]

Etudes symphoniques Op 13 [25'03]
Thema: Andante [1'45]
Variation I: Un poco più vivo [1'05]
Variation II [3'14]
Etude III: Vivace [1'23]
Variation III [0'58]
Variation IV [1'05]
Variation V [0'51]
Variation VI: Allegro molto [1'04]
Variation VII [2'56]
Etude IX: Presto possibile [0'39]
Variation VIII [1'13]
Variation IX [2'35]
Finale: Allegro brillante [6'16]