rAnother great night of piano playing with Marc- Andre Hamelin at the Wigmore Hall tonight.
Much reminded of Jorge Bolet and Earl Wilde and the legendary school of David Stapleton .
Almost no movement from the pianist but total concentration on the sounds that were being miraculously produced .
And how we could also marvel at Hamelin’s recital tonight of the amazing school of Canadian pianists that has burst on to the International scene.
From Glen Gould and Oscar Peterson to Janina Fialkowska, Angela Hewittand Louis Lortie and,of course, above all Marc Andre Hamelin who amazed us this evening ,as he has been doing throughout the world for quite some time.
Maybe the most remarkable performance was his first encore of Schubert’s A flat Impromptu D935 played with such subtle tone colouring that there were minutes of silence at the end by the numerous audience truly mesmerised.A public that perhaps had come only expecting the usual pianistic fireworks that this pianist keeps up his sleeve.
We were not disappointed ,however,in a programme that included Liszt,Feinberg and Lyapunov .
An eclectic programme for a public that was yearning back for the Golden Age of piano playing.
A beautiful early piece by Liszt opened the concert:” Apparition” that immediately established Hamelin’s credentials as a superb Liszt interpreter.
Followed however, on this occasion , by rather ordinary performances, for an artist of Hamelins stature,of the well known studies Waldesrauschen and Un sospiro .
But then almost as though he had been warming up we were treated to a startling performance of the rarely heard Ernani paraphrase leading to a truly overwhelming performance of Liszt’s masterpiece of this genre: the” Reminiscences de Norma “- the famous Norma Fantasy .
Here was a true masterly understanding of the pedal that could produce the most full orchestral sounds as well as the most melting cantabile and of course the famous ” three hand technique” so much used by Liszt’s great rival Thalberg was quite breathtaking.
Complete mastery of the driving rhythms of this piece that not for a second wavered even in the light of the most transcendental difficulties.
After the interval two sonatas by Feinberg number 2 op 2 and number 1 op.1 .A composer that I had been introduced to in my theatre in Rome where the Russian pianist Vladimir Leyetchkiss would come to play every year bringing transcriptions of this virtually unknown,to us , composer.
Interesting Sonatas that need to be reheard and no doubt will be in Hamelin’s hands.
Sonatas in one movement like the Berg Sonata but more akin to Scriabin and Medtner in content .
Two studies by Lyapunov that he had written with the idea of completing Liszt’s own Transcendental Studies ( 12 by Liszt instead of the 24 of all the major and minor keys) .
I had heard them many years ago by that great but underrated pianist Louis Kentner,that my old teacher Gordon Green told me was tipped to become the next great name after the war but somehow his amazing playing, a bit like Cziffra, was not suited to the microscopic note perfection of the recording studio.
Amazingly difficult studies of which Hamelin played two.
The famous Lesghinka number 10 and an amazing number 12″ Elegie en memoire de Francois Liszt “.
Here all Hamelin’s enormous sonorities filled every crevice of the hall with the most sumptuous sounds and had the audience on their feet for a most remarkable show not only of piano playing but also of real musicianship.
This was evident in the choice of encores of a Schubert Impromptu and a movement from a Haydn Sonata played with all the wit and charm of a Brendel.
Next stop tomorrow Murray Perahia with the Hammerklavier …..to be followed by another great pianist Craig Sheppard with Shostakovich’s complete Preludes and Fugues .( The former at the Barbican tomorrow and the latter at the RCM on Wednesday) .
What a coincidence that they were both top prize winners in the Leeds Competition in the early 70’s and are both performing in London all these years later in the same week.
No doubt that we are lucky to be in London the true capital for Classical Music