MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN Barcarolle
Marc-André Hamelin’s piece belongs to a long line of barcarolles in concert-hall music by composers as diverse as Schubert, Rossini, Chopin, Offenbach, Bartók, Poulenc, and Bernstein. Distantly related to the traditional songs associated with Venetian gondoliers, the barcarolle is distinguished by its lilting 6/8 rhythm, evocative of the motion of the boatmen’s oars.
NICOLAS MEDTNER Piano Sonata in E Minor, Op. 25, No. 2,“Night Wind”
Despite such champions as Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Gilels, and Istomin, Nicolas Medtner is not a household name even in his native Russia. Marc-André Hamelin has performed and recorded all 14 of Medtner’s fiendishly difficult piano sonatas. The “Night Wind” takes its name from a poem by the Russian Romantic poet Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev. Medtner’s contemporary, composer Nikolai Myaskovsky, considered the sonata “a masterpiece, one of the most substantial and outstanding compositions of the present time.”
FRANZ SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935
As their name implies, these four impromptus, composed less than a year before Schubert’s untimely death, share a spontaneous, improvisatory quality. Yet so deliberately did he lay the set out that it has often been likened to a four-movement sonata. “A sonata is such a mark of honor in a composer’s work that I would like to credit him one more,” wrote Robert Schumann, one of Schubert’s posthumous champions. The lyrical theme-and-variations Impromptu No. 3 evokes the intimate, singing tone that contemporaries admired in the composer’s piano playing.