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Fantasy In C Maj/Etudes Sympho Import


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 1 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000058UUV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

1. Fantasie in C major Op.17 - Schumann
2. Piano Sonata No.2 in G minor Op.22 - Schumann
3. Etudes symphoniques - Schumann

Product Description

Product Description

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Marc-André Hamelin already has some notable Hyperion discs under his belt and now adds three works by Schumann to his catalogue. The op.17 Fantasie shows Schumann the master of large-scale composition--at almost 33 minutes it is the longest piece on the disc. This is good, rich, meaty stuff, and Hamelin really gives it some welly, but he is equally at home in the quieter, more lyrical passages which are never far away in Schumann. Try the opening of the Langsam getragen. This is archetypal Schumann: intimate, assured and with more than a hint of vulnerability. There's more of this in the slow movement of the Piano Sonata op.22. After the headlong scurrying of the first movement, the Andantino lets us into the quiet place again, the old head-and-heart mix which is Schumann's trademark. The Etudes symphoniques op.13 is one of those grand sweeping pieces that just carries you along. Having set out its stall in leisurely fashion, it cascades through an endlessly inventive set of variations to the Allegro brillante finale, which Hamelin tackles with take-no-prisoners verve. The playing throughout is rich and opulent, tempering Schumann's essentially personal outpouring with the bravura public face. --Keith Clarke

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Format: Audio CD
The Schumann Fantasy is one of the most subjective works in the piano repertoire. It is perhaps one of the most difficult of all to bring off as a convincing and integrated whole. In this sense it is much like the Chopin sonatas; many great artists have offered us wonderful performances of individual movements, but few have realized the works as a truly satisfying whole.
I looked forward to this recording a great deal. I could think of no pianist better equipped to deal with the thorny technical demands of Schumann than Hamelin. He gives us a fiery and heroic effort. It is a spacious account, well conceived, wonderfully thought out and (as expected) brilliantly executed. But, it is on the spiritual and emotional plane that Schumann somehow eludes Hamelin; he comes close but stops short of the summit, and at times this most romantic of works sounds too deliberate, direct and literal.
However, the very qualities which undermine Hamelin in the Fantasy make for great performance of the G-minor Sonata. Hamelin makes a compelling argument for a work which has languished on the fringes of the literature. Rather ironically this sonata, its companion in F-sharp minor, Op. 11, and the Etudes symphoniques, Op. 13, all enjoyed great exposure at the turn of the century. Indeed, if one looks back to recital programs between 1898 and 1920, it is hard to find a program where one of these works (or the Fantasy) was not featured by artists ranging from Emil von Sauer to Percy Grainger--along with the ubiquitous Brahms Paganini and Handel Variations.
Little more needs to be said about the Symphonic Etudes, except that Hamelin dispatches them (in the 1850's revision) with ease. I would welcome this piano-slayer to turn his attention to the Brahms sonatas or just about anything else less over-played.
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By toronto on April 8 2011
Format: Audio CD
I have no idea what the little spat among the other reviewers is. I thought Hamelin's playing of the Fantasie was fabulous, just the right touch of "ephemera coming into existence" -- as usual the recording is up to Hyperion's standards (actually the recording is sumptuous). You can really get lost in this recording. There are others as good, but I've never heard a better for sheer listening pleasure.

As the others have noted, even Piano Sonata #2 holds together here, which is something.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Schumann Needs More Than Rhetoric April 16 2002
By brent taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Schumann Fantasy is one of the most subjective works in the piano repertoire. It is perhaps one of the most difficult of all to bring off as a convincing and integrated whole. In this sense it is much like the Chopin sonatas; many great artists have offered us wonderful performances of individual movements, but few have realized the works as a truly satisfying whole.
I looked forward to this recording a great deal. I could think of no pianist better equipped to deal with the thorny technical demands of Schumann than Hamelin. He gives us a fiery and heroic effort. It is a spacious account, well conceived, wonderfully thought out and (as expected) brilliantly executed. But, it is on the spiritual and emotional plane that Schumann somehow eludes Hamelin; he comes close but stops short of the summit, and at times this most romantic of works sounds too deliberate, direct and literal.
However, the very qualities which undermine Hamelin in the Fantasy make for great performance of the G-minor Sonata. Hamelin makes a compelling argument for a work which has languished on the fringes of the literature. Rather ironically this sonata, its companion in F-sharp minor, Op. 11, and the Etudes symphoniques, Op. 13, all enjoyed great exposure at the turn of the century. Indeed, if one looks back to recital programs between 1898 and 1920, it is hard to find a program where one of these works (or the Fantasy) was not featured by artists ranging from Emil von Sauer to Percy Grainger--along with the ubiquitous Brahms Paganini and Handel Variations.
Little more needs to be said about the Symphonic Etudes, except that Hamelin dispatches them (in the 1850's revision) with ease. I would welcome this piano-slayer to turn his attention to the Brahms sonatas or just about anything else less over-played. And, despite Hamelin's strength in the sonata, he is very clearly outclassed by Argerich. This recording contains some very nice playing, but there are far better Schumann interpretations from Pollini, Richter, Cortot and Gilels. Hopefully, we also have a lot more to forward to from Arcadi Volodos if his Bunte Blatter is any indication.
As for the Fantasy? I will continue to enjoy Jorge Bolet's reading, but it is Arnaldo Cohen on Vox who gives what is perhaps my single favorite performance of this work; one which bears out repeated listening and is beautifully recorded and eminently affordable at budget price.
I enjoyed this recording and as a fan of Hamelin I was not overly disappointed even though some weaknesses in him are finally revealed. Nice to know that he is human; after all, even Horowitz had trouble with Beethoven. In all fairness, I could live without this one but wonder if Hamelin played it all much better before a live audience.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Generally fine, but lacking in poetry and no match for the classics Sept. 7 2009
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Hamelin's specialty is still absurdly difficult material from the fringes of the repertoire, such as Alkan and Godowsky, although he has made several extremely fine recordings of mainstream works as well. I mention this because this disc, rather than sounding like a central part of his repertoire, sometimes sounds like it is a mere side-thought with a certain lack of depth and involvement.

The sonata is very fast (although close to Schumann's actual metronome marks), but the overall flow and sweep of the music is missing even though separate details and figures are impressive. This is, perhaps, most obvious in the slow movement - nothing Hamelin does here sounds ugly or hard, but the long lines are nebulous and in lack of characterization. This is not a bad version of the sonata, by no means, but it isn't entirely up there with the classics either. The Symphonic Studies are somewhat marred by the same problems - much impressive and fine playing, but the overall effect is lacking in songfulness; most importantly, perhaps, the differences in mood between the pieces are blurred, and it sounds sometimes like Hamelin is adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to these subtly varied works.

The Fantasie is better - quite so much so, in fact, that I suspect that was the main reason for recording the disc, and is certainly the main reason for acquiring it. Here Hamelin conjures smoldering power and urgent drive - it is still missing the poetry of some of the classic alternatives, but it is still an alternative that deserves to be heard. Sound quality is of course fine, but in the end - while overall by all means a very fine disc - this is not a prime choice in the repertoire.
A second sonata for the ages May 27 2014
By Quinton Fox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It took a while, but here we finally have Hamelin's first venture in very familiar piano repertoire. So how does the technically most proficient player of the 88 in history compare to a suddenly overabundant "competition"? Very favorably!
Let's start with the best performance of the album, Schumannn's second sonata. This is simply the best performance of the work that I have heard. While I still have extremely fond memories of a performance of this work by Bruno Leonardo Gelber in 1985, and own the work in a performance by Berezovsky, Hamelin's account simply sets a new standard. Throughout the whole of the work he keeps the tension, so crucial to Schumann, alive. This performance is truly dramatic, as is the level of pianism that is being displayed. Especially the last moment has to be heard to be believed.
While the etudes get a very symphonic performance, I had expected a little more. I often had the impression that Hamelin made every attempt not to overplay the technical aspects. I think he simply shortchanged himself. In addition, this interpretation lacks some of the continuity that characterized the Sonata. Here, Pollini remains my clear preference, with more edgy alternatives by Pogorelich and Barto.
The Fantasy, however, clearly is at 5 star level again Both drama and pianism are top notch. While Hamelin is at times more lyrical than Pollini, I do prefer the latter for his greater sense of architecture. Fellow Hamelin fans should not interpret these remarks as too dismissive since Pollini's original duo of Schumann's Fantasy and first Sonata can be considered among the ultimate in the romantic piano repertoire.
Supervirtuosity does not mean superficiality June 7 2013
By Richard Steiger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In some ways Hamelin is hurt by his reputation as the great "supervituoso" of this era. To some people that necessarily equates to superficiality. (Horowitz and Hofmann suffered from the same classification.) I have a friend who insists that Hamelin is a "soulless virtuoso." Well, Friend (and you know who you are), if you listen to Hamelin's intimate, exquisite performace of the last movement of the Fantasy (or the slow movement of the sonata) you will quickly change your tune. Anyway, I feel some of the other reviewers of this recording fall victim to this delusion.
Hamelin takes a very rhapsodic view of the sprawling first movement of the Fantasy, stressing its extremes. Somehow he holds it all together. The second movement (which can easily bog down) is remarkably well-paced, concluding with a stunning coda (there's that damn supervirtuosity again). The sonata is equally fine: the first movement comes flying off his fingers like a bat out of hell. Only the Symphonio Etudes, though a good performance, disappoints a bit. Hamelin seems to get carried away there (in the finale he sounds like he's going to break the piano). Other pianists, like Romanovsky and Geza Anda (his fabulous stereo performance) find more variety in the work.
THe sound is excellent. You can safely add this cd to your Schumann collection. Unless, of course, you're allergic to supervirtuosity.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Austere Schumann with Titanic Virtuosity! March 9 2007
By Scriabinmahler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If you admire Hamelin's super-human virtuosity, you will not be disappointed with this recording. In each piece there's a plenty of it, and this is no doubt the most technically accomplished of all Schumann recitals for recent years.

My only reservation is that it sounds too austere and somehow it lacks colours, atmosphere and delicacy (so essential to Schumann's piano music) in all three pieces. Having said that who else can play Schumann, nowadays, with rich poetry and subtlety that match past masters like Heinrich Neuhaus or Richter who could work miracle on keybord playing Schumann?

Schumann's music really shows limitation of imagination and poor use of pedalling so characteristic of our generation of pianists who do not pay much attention to how sound decays and mixes with other notes and harmonies. To many pianists today, 'subltely' means only playing softly because their focus is only on starting point of a note they create, so their pianism lacks in depth and richness of expression no matter how hard they try to create poetry and atmosphere ( Kissin or Ashkenazy is a typical examle ).

Hamelin is no exception in this respect, but he still manages pretty well compared to other pianists. If you admire his fingures, 5 stars surely, but out of respect for Schumann's music, I give only 4.


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