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Franz Liszt: Fantasie und Fuge über das Thema B-A-C-H – Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude – Venezia e Napoli – Piano Sonata in B minor
Marc-André Hamelin (Piano)
Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London, England (25-27 August 2010) – 79’ 38
Hyperion Records Ltd. #CDA67760 – Booklet in English, German and French

It could be fittingly said that Marc-André Hamelin lives vicariously through the life of Franz Liszt. Both men received preeminence, the latter garnering the illustrious title of Commandeur de la Légion d’honnueur by Napoléon III back in 1861 while the former’s meritorious commendations include ranks of Officer of the Order of Canada in 2003 and Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec in 2004. Liszt’s veneration was cited for his accomplishments as a composer, not merely a pianist, yet, interestingly enough, Hamelin’s awards were based on a cabinet full of reverent keyboard interpretations. The pairing couldn’t be better.

Having built an astonishing international reputation, Marc-André Hamelin is quite the virtuosic phenomenon. This rarified decipherment has been captured on fifty plus CDs including the likes of Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, and, in this case, Franz Liszt. Specifically, this Hyperion recording of Liszt’s works retains a respectful cross section of the Hungarian native’s piano compositions.

Marc-André Hamelin’s approach is like looking through a magnifying glass, where he exposes every imaginable nook and cranny in order to mathematically calculate the correct answer through the use of iridescent equations. Even though many of the “algebraic” problems are difficult, Hamelin discovers a way to achieve the final answer. Whether it be the heavily laden Fantasie, Liszt’s derivative organ piece paying homage to the great Johann Sebastian Bach, or the pious and religious overtones of Lamartine-inspired Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude or the intensified Chopinesque Tarantella movement contained within the supplemental Venezia e Napoli, Hamelin knows when to pull back or move the throttle forward, giving each piece maximum efficiency and top grade musical combustion.

The album concludes with the highly regarded Piano Sonata in B minor in which Liszt redesigns the traditional “sonata”, bearing his own distinct trademark and technical variances. Mr. Hamelin intelligently ties together the beginning lugubrious Lento assai with the unexpected spiritual conclusion of Andante sostenuto while articulating the fugue-like Allegro energico with the more reflective Allegro energico – Piú mosso.

Franz Liszt’s artistic inventions are unparalleled, tinged with both a secular and a religious vein, resultant of his own personal journey. Marc-Andre Hamelin’s pellucidity is unquestionable.

Christie Grimstad




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