ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Kaleidoscope
PERFORMER: Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67275
This is the kind of disc that no pianist could do better than Marc-André Hamelin: a collection of miniature piano rarities and transcriptions, all but two from the 20th century, the majority by composer-pianists – including Hamelin himself – put together to fascinating effect.
The range of pieces extends from Massenet’s Valse folle to the driven and very un-gigue-like Gigue by the Russian ‘futurist’ Lourié and the exhilarating jazziness of Nikolai Kapustin’s Toccatina that ends the programme; in the middle, the bill of fare includes the delicate wizardry of Josef Hoffmann, some phenomenal pyrotechnics in Michalowski’s Étude after Chopin’s A flat Impromptu and an unexpected joy in Hamelin’s own transcription of the ‘Petit adagio’ from Glazunov’s The Seasons – one of the composer’s loveliest inspirations. Throughout, the playing carries all the hallmarks of Hamelin on tip-top form: the smooth, suave surface is untroubled in even the most dense or dizzying virtuoso passages, the phrases are turned with poised eloquence, the tone quality is glorious and the tenderness of the Glazunov warms the heart through. There’s also a delectable and rather deadpan sense of fun, most notable in Hamelin’s own Étude No. 3 after Paganini and Liszt’s La campanella. A kaleidoscope indeed! Jessica Duchen