Monday, January 17, 2011

Awards 2010: Living composer - Instrumental

Hamelin: Études & other piano works
Marc-André Hamelin


And this is the Recording of the Year. In Gramophone, Jed Distler jokingly laments "all of us composer/ pianists have no choice but to go out of business". It's "A cause for celebration", according to Peter J Rabinowitz in IRR: "Hamelin the composer has the same kind of tact and imagination that Hamelin the pianist does... there's so much harmonic and contrapuntal interest in these works, so much sheer joie de vivre, such evident love for the instrument and its history, and such consistent wit... that even music lovers who disdain virtuoso excess are likely to be seduced". On MusicWeb, Dan Morgan remarks "In an age dominated by self-aggrandising performers it’s always a pleasure to hear artists who wear their virtuosity so lightly. There is much to savour, so many strands woven into works of skill and substance. Marry that with lucid, self-deprecating liner-notes and top-notch sound and you have one of the finest piano records of the year". James Harrington in American Record Guide says "All told, this disc and its score would be my first choice to take back in time and give to Liszt to show him how far piano technique advanced in the 150 years or so since his time. I cannot imagine that the old master would not initially be dumbfounded, and after closer review, smile and nod with an all-knowing look that conveyed he fully understood the magnitude of Hamelin's accomplishment".
Hamelin is, at 49, the youngest of the 5 composers featured here: Henri Dutilleux was born in 1916, Einojuhani Rautavaara in 1928, Aulis Sallinen in 1935, and Christopher Rouse in 1949. Which means nothing much except that "Living composer" can cover quite a broad range; after all, Dutilleux wrote his Piano sonata before either Rouse or Hamelin were born.

Rouse: Symphony no.2; Flute concerto. Sharon Bezaly; Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Alan Gilbert [BIS]
Dutilleux: "D'ombre et de silence" - piano music. Robert Levin [ECM New Series]
Sallinen: Symphony no.6; Cello concerto. Jan-Erik Gustafsson; Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Ari Rasilainen [CPO]
Rautavaara: Before the Icons; A Tapestry of Life. Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam [Ondine]

No comments: