Saturday 24 November 2012

Performances to treasure from Marc-André Hamelin

Just occasionally one attends a concert that one knows has been a special experience. Marc-André Hamelin’s appearance at Malvern Theatres last night (23rd November 2012) was just such an occasion.

Part of the Yamaha International Piano Series, Hamelin played a Yamaha CFX piano in a recital that included Bach, Fauré, Ravel and Liszt.

Liszt’s Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV542 was at one commanding yet sensitive with a forward momentum and a clear structural line. In Hamelin’s hands Fauré’s Impromptu No.2 in F minor Op.31 was gloriously romantic with lovely rubato and a silken touch. Fauré’s Barcarolle No.3 in G was mesmerising in its atmospheric ebb and flow, its fleeting moods caught perfectly.

Marc-André Hamelin’s performance of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit must rank amongst the finest I’ve heard. Ondine was pure poetry and delicacy to such an extent that words seem insufficient. Hamelin gave us a superb Le Gibet and a formidable Scarbo. What a wonderful touch Hemelin has.

This well planned recital gave us Liszt’s brief Nuages Gris, its harmonic progressions linking us very much to Debussy and the preceding Ravel. I have heard many fine interpretations of Liszt’s B minor Piano Sonata but last night’s performance from Hamelin was really special, full of poetry and passion, yet beautifully controlled. There were lovely little touches throughout and, oh, those beautiful rippling passages. This was a performance to treasure.

As an encore Hamelin gave us a substantial treat, his own brilliant set of Paganini Variations, with syncopated rhythms and jazz influences, dissonances and quotes from other composers including a brief reference to Rachmaninov’s Variations.

Marc-André Hamelin is a superb artist and this was one of those occasions that will live in the memory.

And what about that Yamaha piano? What stood out most of all was the beautifully sweet upper register – particularly in the hands of a master like Marc-André Hamelin.

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