MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

  2022
 58,121 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus

 

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Po zarostlém chodníčku (On the overgrown path) Book 1 (1900-1911) [32:04]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Waldszenen, Op. 82 (1849) [22:34]  
Kinderszenen, Op. 15 (1838) [19:48]
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
rec. March 2013, Henry Wood Hall, London, UK
reviewed as a Studio Master 24/96 download
HYPERION CDA68030 [74:26]

Quebec-born Marc-André Hamelin is not just a keyboard virtuoso, he’s a veritable force of nature. That’s amply demonstrated in his own 12 Études in all the minor keys; and then there’s his coruscating Alkan and Rzewski. As one of many distinguished pianists on Hyperion’s books he rarely fails to impress, although I was mildly surprised by the choice of repertoire on offer here. Not the kind of showpieces he does so well, perhaps, but a challenging combination of Janáček at his darkest and most ambiguous, and Schumann at his easeful, engaging best. As for Hyperion they have an enviable reputation for top-flight piano recordings; indeed, I’d go so far as to say they’re among the best in the business, which makes this collection all the more alluring.
 
Janáček’s set of miniatures, On the overgrown path, consists of two books; the first – played here – has 10 pieces, the second five. They’ve fared quite well on disc, with recordings from the likes of Leif Ove Andsnes (Virgin), Roland Pöntinen (BIS) and Andras Schiff (ECM). As for the Schumann cycles – given pride of place on the cover and in the liner-notes, despite coming second in the order of play – the list of competing versions is much longer. No matter; in Hamelin’s case comparatives are rarely useful, for he’s one of those very individual artists – and that’s not code for wayward or eccentric - who brings something new and authoritative to everything he plays.
 
Much has been written of the inscrutability of the Janáček pieces, whose evocative titles - A blown-away leaf (No. 2), Unutterable anguish (No. 5) and The barn owl has not flown away! (No. 10) – seem innocent enough. Don’t be fooled, for they conceal knotty utterances full of unexpected progressions and unsettled harmonies. Hamelin homes in on this tense dialectic at the outset; for instance the circular charm of Our evenings (No. 1) is soon interrupted by something altogether more peremptory, even sinister. Finely articulated and very well recorded, Hamelin’s playing has shape and clarity; rhythms and dynamics are well judged too.
 
The piano is ideally balanced, its timbres are true and there’s a pleasing naturalness to it all. In lesser hands these pieces could so easily become an unvarying sequence of opposing moods, yet Hamelin’s impressive range of colours and rhythmic nuances makes each piece seem utterly individual. This is finely calibrated music-making whose very proportionality and restraint renders Unbearable anguish – with its mesmeric figures - and In tears all the more poignant. Hamelin’s manifold talents are sure to hold you in their thrall from start to finish; they certainly did me.
 
How does one follow that? With a miniaturist who inspired so many, Janáček included. Hyperion have programmed Op. 82 first, and what a sunny glade it seems after that sharp and gloomy thicket. Hamelin is just as comfortable with Schumann’s high Romanticism, whether it’s the pensive charm of Eintritt (Entry) and Einsame blumen (Lonely flowers) or the virile strut of Jäger auf der Lauer (Hunters on the lookout). Intimate of scale and execution but never self-conscious Hamelin’s Waldszenen is a daisy chain of delights. A friendly, heart-lifting landscape in every sense, this is Schumann at his most inventive and disarming; it’s such a pleasure to hear a pianist so alive to this composer’s sensibilities. The final Abschied, beautifully poised, is imbued here with a rare, unforced loveliness.
 
After those bucolic excursions and asides Schumann’s Op. 15 – which he described to Clara as ‘quaint little things’ – explores another landscape, that of childhood. He may have labelled them ‘simple pieces’ but that surely has more to do with their child-like reminiscences than the level of skill required to play them. Hamelin is suitably virtuosic when required – Nos. 2, 6 and 9 are despatched with real élan – but I’d have liked a bit more suppleness in No. 4, the ubiquitous Träumerei (No. 7) and No. 11. That said, the sheer range and depth of piano tone is exploited to the full.
 
In the presence of such fine, intuitive playing it seems churlish to nit-pick, even if it is only the once. Hamelin’s is a prodigious talent, intelligently used in this divergent repertoire, so his fans need not delay in acquiring this disc or download. Hyperion’s easy-to-navigate website and Download Manager – not to mention their real-world pricing – makes the latter an attractive alternative for music buyers. As for Harriet Smith’s thoughtful liner-notes, they are a pleasure to peruse.
 
Enchanting; Hyperion’s pied piper does it again.
 
Dan Morgan
http://twitter.com/mahlerei