Marc-André Hamelin Recital - IKIF

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Donald Isler
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Marc-André Hamelin Recital - IKIF

Post by Donald Isler » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:18 pm

Marc-André Hamelin Recital
15th International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Mannes College
July 24th, 2013

Haydn: Sonata in C Minor, Hob. XVI: 20
Scriabin: Sonata No. 3 in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 23
Schubert: Sonata in B-Flat Major, D. 960

Have you ever seen the video of William Kapell’s 1953 recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Watching and hearing it one notices that no detail was left to chance. Everything was worked out and meticulously planned, the result being that the performance comes across as a very polished work of art.

One gets the same impression at concerts of Marc-André Hamelin, a rather unique blend of the intellectual and the virtuoso, whose recitals are always among the highlights of the IKIF.

The first movement of the Haydn Sonata had a warm, romantic feel to it. The second movement had a lovely, natural flow, and Mr. Hamelin very effectively held back the tempo at times to show expressive highpoints. One could enjoy flawless passagework in the last movement, as well as Mr. Hamelin’s way with Haydn’s elaboration of the material at the beginning of the movement, and his more forceful and dramatic repeat of the last section.

The performance of the Scriabin Sonata was wonderful. While marked “Drammàtico” the first movement was played not with unbridled passion, but with many shades of feeling kept under control, sometimes sounding even a bit wistful. The second movement, on the other hand, contrasted wild fury and tenderness, and here Mr. Hamelin gave a textbook lesson in how to start a fast movement with the rhythm absolutely clear right from the very beginning. The third movement displayed both soothing calm as well as turmoil seeking release, and the last movement had great passion, with a compounding of tension, and a piling up of different levels of sonority.

Mr. Hamelin’s reading of the great B-Flat Major Sonata of Schubert was 45 minutes long, with the first movement alone lasting 21 minutes, as Mr. Hamelin took the repeat, which most performers leave out. Should one do that repeat? Opinions will vary from those who believe that one should always do everything exactly as the composer wrote it, to those who believe that playing this repeat offers us just a bit too much of Schubert’s “heavenly lengths,” even in one of his greatest works. I suspect that most of us decide this not by scholarship but by our gut feeling, which leads this listener to prefer the second option. (That most of the performances I’ve heard omitted the repeat is certain, because I am always startled to hear the music in the first ending, leading back to the repeat of the exposition, having heard it so rarely.)

Mr. Hamelin played the first movement very beautifully and at a tempo which was rather slow, though it always moved. This slow tempo, however, resulted in the second movement not being as much of a contrast as it might have been, the pulses of the two being not too dissimilar. The second movement was very sensitively played, however, and Mr. Hamelin produced the hoped-for magic at the moment where it shifted to C Major.

In the third movement, the Scherzo theme in B-Flat Major percolated happily along and Mr. Hamelin emphasized the contrast of the quirky B-Flat Minor Trio, playing the latter slower, and bringing out left hand accents.

The last movement was deliberate, thoughtful, not fast but dramatic, with a great variety of expression and tonally gorgeous.

Mr. Hamelin received a very enthusiastic reception upon the conclusion of the Schubert Sonata, but on this occasion played no encores.

Donald Isler
Donald Isler

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Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:58 am
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA

Re: Marc-André Hamelin Recital - IKIF

Post by Ricordanza » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:41 am

Wish I could have been there. Thanks for the review.

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