6 Songs, 1 Hour 22 Minutes


Mastered for iTunes


Mastered for iTunes

Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5

5 Ratings

5 Ratings

The Great Russian Concertos


First things first: Hamelin is slowly becoming human. The sort of jaw-dropping pyrotechnics that you'll hear in his Godowsky or Alkan recordings have faded over the years. I had heard live recordings of both these concertos from him before, and the fire from those performances is unfortunately absent here. With his legendary technique aging, however, a superb musicality has grown to take its place. He gives here two worthy performances of two of the greatest piano concerti in the repertoire.

Most people will not be familiar with Medtner 2nd concerto, so let me say, it's a doozy. A brilliantly constructed masterwork that will continue to get better and better upon relisten. It's been noted time after time, but Medtner had a peculiar way of creating music that is almost never striking on the first few listens, but manages to reveal its majesty to you the more attempts you give it. The 2nd concerto is possibly his greatest work, and Hamelin gives it the care it deserves.

His Rach 3 is unfortunately one among thousands. I've heard so many recordings of this work, it takes a lot to stand out after a while. Don't let that dissuade you, however. He wrings the beauty from each note and it's well past time that a Hamelin performance of this piece make it to disc.

Perhaps it's just me, but there seems to be something missing from the sound quality of this recording. I have become accustomed to Hyperion recordings of Hamelin sounding almost like it's not being played by a human at all (in a good way!), as if the music had always simply existed in that form, and was not actually a human reproducing notes on a page. There's something strangely rough about this recording. It feels up close and personal, and there's certainly something to admire about that. At the same time, a nostalgia for the classic days of Hyperion/Hamelin recordings is creeping in for me and biasing my hearing of this disc.

This is the kind of recording I'd been hoping Hamelin would make for quite a while now, and I'm happy to say that it doesn't disappoint!

Five stars from me...


I am very pleased with the "Rachmaninov 3." Hamelin's playing is absolutely brilliant, and just so mesmerizing. I have a lot of versions of this concerto and this is definitly one of my favorites. I also love the Medtner, however it is hard for me to say that I like it better than Nikolai Demidenko's version on Hyperion (maybe after a few more listens). To my ears, the sound quality is excellent. I encourage anyone who likes Hamelin to pick this one up, you won't be sorry.

About Marc-André Hamelin

Like the legendary pianists of the 19th and early 20th century, such as Sigismund Thalberg, Franz Liszt, Leopold Godowsky, and Ignace Jan Paderewski, it often sounds as if Marc-André Hamelin has more than 10 fingers. His ability to play fiendishly difficult music, make it sound as if it's a stroll in the park, yet imbue it with musical sensitivity makes him worthy of the description "super-virtuoso" by The New York Times' Harold Schoenberg.

Hamelin studied at the Vincent d'Indy School of Music in Montréal with Yvonne Hubert, a pupil of Cortot, then received bachelor's and master's degrees at Temple University, working under Russell Sherman and Harvey Weeden. In 1985, he launched his career with a first prize victory in the Carnegie Hall International American Music Competition. Since then, he has appeared in recital at a multitude of international venues, often with a thematically linked program of works. His solo turns with orchestras are no less far-reaching, covering major venues in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Hamelin also finds time for a few chamber music performances and recordings, with such colleagues as Jon Kimura Parker, Angela Hewitt, Angela Cheng, Midori, Angèle Dubeau, Alain Marion, Jon Vickers, the Leopold String Trio, and the Takács Quartet.

His early recordings for CBC, Altarus, New World and Music & Arts labels featured music by Bolcom, Wolpe, Ives, Sorabji, and Godowsky. Hamelin then signed an exclusive contract as a Hyperion artist, and the frequencey of releases and breadth of his repertoire helped propel his star higher. Covering concertos and solo works of composers such as Alkan, Busoni, Medtner, Reger, Rzewski, Scriabin, Villa-Lobos, Weissenberg, and Grainger -- just to name a few -- his recordings have been nominated and won several prestigious awards. Compared to those composers, the sonatas of Haydn would seem too tame for Hamelin, but his 2007 volume of these was the year's best-seller for Hyperion. The 2010 release, Études, of his own compositions (bringing Hamelin even closer to the examples of Liszt and Godowsky), yielded the pianist his ninth Grammy nomination and a first prize from the German Record Critic’s Association.

Based in Boston, Hamelin received a lifetime achievement prize in 2003 from the German Record Critic’s Association, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
September 5, 1961



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