"With Hamelin, what you get is different — a sober-suited, professorial demeanor at the keyboard, with a riveting focus on the music...In Hamelin’s hands, the 'Appassionata' sounded new-minted and vital. He has the rare ability to sound like he is improvising music on the spot, like the ink is still drying on the composer's manuscript. The explosive contrasts of dynamic in the opening movement had the shock of the new about them, forcefully suggesting a composer searching out new possibilities of emotional expression." Read More...
— Terry Blain,
"The Haydn is a lively entertainment originally written for royalty; the Mahler is death and life everlasting and everything in between. How could the Haydn hold its own? Canadian virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin played it brilliantly, then returned with an encore: a little something he’d written for the most recent Van Cliburn competition, where Hamelin was a judge. It was a beast." Read More...
— Pamela Espeland,
"Such a performance would be well worth the price of admission, but these concerts also feature one of the world’s most accomplished pianists, Marc-Andre Hamelin, showing off his artistry on Joseph Haydn’s 11th Piano Concerto. The composer known as the father of both the symphony and the string quartet doesn’t have his piano concertos performed often, so it was exciting to hear what this artist of the ivories did with Haydn, especially during a tender slow movement of soft resignation and a lightly articulated sadness. Hamelin might be playing Haydn better than anyone in the world right now, so this is a chance worth seizing." Read More...
— Rob Hubbard,
"Hamelin’s very live performance of the Appassionata made for some real excitement, and pace." Read More...
— Jim McDonald,
The Boston Musical Intelligencer
"The radiant, unison fanfare toward the end of the second movement was a triumph, with the two instruments creating a wide soundscape that practically defied physics." Read More...
— Ken Iisaka,
San Francisco Classical Voice
"Andsnes and Hamelin made things easier for themselves by using two pianos, rather than entwining themselves in the four-hand, one-keyboard variant used in both the other concerts, emphasizing the formality of a give-and-take that brought out every facet of the score and built to monumental heights without completely losing itself in emotional abandon. Even with the formality, though, there was an intimacy to the interaction of two crack musicians at work, which they crowned with an encore, Stravinsky’s “Circus Polka.” Let’s hope they continue their collaboration." Read More...
— Anne Midgette,
The Washington Post
"The standard criticism of this version is that it amounts to a black-and-white deconstruction of this riotously colorful landmark of early 20th-century symphonic modernism, a criticism Hamelin and Andsnes made irrelevant by eloquently arguing the music's merits on purely pianistic terms. They didn't try to imitate an orchestral sonority, which would have been futile. Instead, they played up the tightly interlocking rhythms and clarified dense textures, taking the listener past Stravinsky's gnashing dissonances to show how this revolutionary music is made." Read More...
— John von Rhein,
"Familiar episodes of this score — the pummeling “Dances of the Young Girls,” the ritualistic “Spring Rounds,” the mysterious introduction to the second part — came through with stunning freshness and clarity. There was a long standing ovation." Read More...
— Anthony Tommasini,
The New York Times
"The duo’s conclusion, “The Rite of Spring,” was a knockout: the simplicity of the two introductory sections, the elemental power of the explosive accents, and the rhythmic excitement of two keyboard superpowers bringing this great score to vivid life." Read More...
— Melinda Bargreen,
The Seattle Times
"Andsnes and Hamelin illuminated Debussy’s textures with great finesse, drawing out the work’s many allusions, quotations and distant gunfire." Read More...
— Harriet Smith,
The Financial Times
"...Andsnes and Hamelin’s performance had the irresistible power and momentum of a juggernaut." Read More...
— Erica Jeal,
Music Toronto saves the best for last in its Chamber Music Downtown concert seri
"The D flat Major melody that interrupted the movement was as beautiful as one could ever imagine. Hamelin tore through the technically impossible octaves, scales and arpeggios like a stallion at full gallop. From beginning to end, he kept the listener on the edge of their seat."
— David Richards,
Toronto Concert Reviews
1 4 shares Marc-Andre Hamelin wins listeners' hearts at Cleveland Int'l Piano Co
"Beethoven and Chopin were his two finest vehicles. The former's "Appassionata" Sonata and the latter's Sonata No. 2 he crafted into journeys ranging from poignant to exhilarating. All one could do for most of their duration was sit back and submit to the musical equivalent of two hurricanes."
— Zachary Lewis,
The Plain Dealer
Review: ASO performs a musical joke from a Russian master
"Hamelin handled the pointy melodies with a nearly percussive approach, in the next instance, issuing liquescent chromatic passages by barely even touching the keyboard. Hamelin’s performance, full of spellbinding technique and beautiful musicality, was stirring..."
— Jon Ross,
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Oregon Symphony review: Study in contrasts Oregon Symphony, guest conductor Nich
"...Hamelin urged a maximum of beauty and contrast from Rachmaninov’s headlong score."
— Terry Ross,
Hamelin honored with heroic embrace at SummerFest
"Beneath this bluster and exaggerated tenderness is one of the most original, radical piano works of the 19th century. Hamelin delineated each of Liszt’s themes, enabled us to hear them transformed, doing so with the consummate skill of a great actor performing a monolog.
One moment Hamelin demonically crashed out chords in the lowest register, the next teased out pianissimo plaintive utterances in the treble. He emphasized the wildness of Liszt’s narrative without derailing it.
It was a heroic journey, and at its quiet conclusion, Hamelin was given a hero’s celebration by the audience."
— Christian Hertzog,
San Diego Union Tribune
Review: Pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin saves the day at Tanglewood
"Whether the music called for Hamelin to play slow, stately passages or a flurry of fast notes, he responded with a ferocious intensity that perfectly suited Beethoven's beautiful music. No wonder the crowd leapt to its feet after this piece."
— Ken Ross,
REVIEW: Debussy: String Quartet in G minor op.10. Franck: Piano Quintet in F min
"Marc-André Hamelin has made a number of outstanding recordings, yet his playing in Franck’s Quintet is in a class apart, captured in sound of almost tactile presence. There are occasions – as in the Molto moderato opening section – when he appears to be merely breathing on the keys, shaping phrases with acute sensitivity to mood and atmosphere."
— Julian Haylock,
Hamelin charms with a rapturous Mozart
"...his playing in the Piano Concerto No. 17 was offered like a flute of fine prosecco: witty, scintillating, joyful, lit with a warm golden glow"
— Natasha Gauthier,
Two piano virtuosos reveal very different musical sensibilities
"The three Book 2 "Images" of Debussy found Hamelin the subtle colorist, operating in his impressionist element. "Cloches a travers les feuilles" ("Bells Sounding Across the Leaves") delighted in delicate sprays of arpeggios over finely controlled washes of piano pastels. Both the second piece and "Poissons d'or" ("Goldfish") were object lessons in applying soft dynamic gradations without any loss of tonal presence."
— John von Rhein,
Emotional depths: Hamelin, Jurowski and the LPO in Rachmaninov and Zemlinsky
"Above all, this was a profoundly musical interpretation, one in which the listener was able to marvel at the sheer detail of Rachmaninov’s compositional magic while revelling in the virtuosic ease that Hamelin brought to it."
— Matthew Rye,
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski – Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau/Th
"How good to hear this music not used as a vehicle for ‘self’, and how well the writing takes to a leisurely but not indulged approach, yet with no lack of emotion or spirit and encompassing an unfailing sense of direction."
— Colin Anderson,
Marc-André Hamelin Gradually Ups the Ante at Carnegie Hall
"Mr. Hamelin, having spent much of his early career exploring pianistic showpieces on the fringes of the repertory, has a commanding technique. But there was no sense of slumming or condescension. As in his brilliant recordings of Haydn sonatas for Hyperion, Mr. Hamelin approached the relative simplicities with warmth and affection."
— James R. Oestreich,
The New York Times
Prom 36, Royal Albert Hall, review: Marc-Andre Hamelin dazzles in Ravel's left-h
“[Hamelin] made a brilliant fist of [Ravel‘s Left Hand Concerto]. Since the work dwells largely in the piano’s smoky lower regions, Hamelin found the ideal touch and tone... his lyrical flights and virtuoso cascades had such richness and amplitude that one completely forgot it was all from just one hand. His two-handed Debussy encore had lovely grace and power.“
— Michael Church,
Theatricality and Complexity Communicated with Thoroughness and Clarity at the P
“Handling with care, but not with restraint, Hamelin indulged in Ravel’s jazz-influenced rhythms and harmonies. His enjoyment was transmitted to the audience who were stunned by Hamelin’s performance.“
— Lucy Jeffery,
Seen and Heard International
Prom 36: Hamelin, BBCSO, Roth
“The highlight of the evening, Ravel‘s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, which brought out the best in conductor, orchestra and the soloist Marc-André Hamelin...the whole reading had a convincing shape and heft.“
— Sebastian Scotney,
The Arts Desk
Prom 36: BBC Symphony Orchestra/François-Xavier Roth – Boulez’s Figures – Double
“The ‘jazz’ was darkly edgy, the Mother Goose-like episodes glinted in contrast and Hamelin’s dexterity was impressive... Hamelin offered an encore that was truly exceptional... This was as delicate as you can imagine, yet carrying effortlessly in the Royal Albert Hall – pastel-shaded, so sensitive, and wonderfully alluring and transporting.“
— Colin Anderson,
Review: Marc-André Hamelin Connects Past and Present in Kaye Playhouse Recital
“Mr. Hamelin, with his preternatural clarity and control, qualities that in him don’t preclude sensitivity and even poetry, was an ideal interpreter... When the performance ended, and Mr. Wyner was called to the stage, he bowed not to the audience but to Mr. Hamelin, giving gratitude where it was due.“
— Zachary Woolfe,
The New York Times
Marc-André Hamelin; Erik Satie: Memoirs of a Pear-Shaped Life reviews
“Marc-André Hamelin has effectively defined himself by espousing the repertory of pianist/composers such as Liszt and Alkan and making the extreme virtuosity they demand look simple. In this Cheltenham music festival morning recital, it was this ease of technique that made his playing of Debussy’s second book of Images so fluid, with tone colours graduated to create a vibrant resonance.“
— Rian Evans,
NJSO concludes the 2014-15 season with Beethoven
The piano's elaborate entrance provides an opportunity for showmanship, but Hamelin's performance was remarkable from the start for its seeming effortlessness and beauty of tone, no matter how intricate the music. His sound was round, silken and smooth, yet with laser-like articulation as well as thoughtful, personal phrasing.
The performance was also notable for its clear voicing, with depth in left hand lower register as melodies spun out energetically from the right hand alongside sensitive wind solos.
There were dreamy lulling moments, and Hamelin proved confident in weighty octaves and dense passages. The interpretation was meticulously paced, gradually gaining force.
Rugged, affirmative fanfare from orchestra complemented the soloist's displays of might.
The Adagio un poco mosso was fittingly gentle, like an exhalation after the athleticism of the massive first movement, and the whirling dance of the finale had spot-on, twinkle-in-the-eye charm.
Throughout, there was a sense of strength and bold personality so intrinsic to the composer yet a particular grace that was Hamelin's own.
— Ronni Reich,