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Hamelin: Catoire – Piano Music (APE)

Hamelin: Catoire - Piano Music (APE)
Hamelin: Catoire - Piano Music (APE)

Performer: Marc-André Hamelin
Composer: Georgi Lvovich Catoire
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Hyperion
Size: 222 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Caprice for piano, Op. 3
02. Intermezzo for piano. Op. 6/5
03. Morceaux for piano, Op. 2
04. Prelude for piano, Op. 6/2
05. Scherzo for piano, Op. 6/3
06. Vision (Étude) for piano, Op. 8
07. Morceaux for piano, Op. 10
08. Morceaux for piano, Op. 12
09. Preludes for piano, Op. 17
10. Chants du crépuscule (4 morceaux pour piano), Op. 24
11. Poem for piano, Op. 34/2
12. Prelude for piano, Op. 34/3
13. Waltz for piano, Op. 36

Hamelin reveals yet another unjustly negelcted composer

Georgy Catoire (1861-1926) has got to be one of the least known composers that Marc-André Hamelin has explored to date. When you hear his music, you will most likely be at a loss to explain his obscurity. True, his music is not revolutionary in any way that resembles his better known Russian comptemporairies. His use of harmony is quite sophisticated, with many ear-catching modulations, but this will go largely unnoticed by the casual listener. What will be noticed is the music’s refinement, charm, and memorable melodies, as well as the considerable challenges it presents to the performer, both musically and technically. Those who enjoy Scriabin’s early piano works will probably find much to enjoy in Catoire’s music, as it possesses numerous superficial similarities. The Scriabin similarity is mentioned in the CD booklet, but another similarity that kept grabbing my ear as I listened, but is not mentioned anywhere in the program notes is Fauré. I adore Fauré, and I found much that Catoire wrote to be very similar to Fauré in its subtly perfumed harmonies, elegant melodies, and keyboard writing style, particularly Fauré’s early Nocturnes, Barcarolles, and Impromptus. Perhaps this is not as surprising as it sounds given that Catoire was born in Russia to parents of French heritage. In any case, whatever the influences and/or similarities may be, Catoire has a unique and individual voice, if not ground-breaking, and his deliciously beautiful piano music really deserves to be heard and played. Marc-André Hamelin’s usual strengths are abundantly on display here. One could argue that this is some of his finest playing on record. His playing is at all times highly refined, sensitive, and elegant, and when called for robust, charming, ardent, reticent, and technically dazzling. However, on the whole, Catoire piano music, like that of Fauré, is very pianistically challenging but rarely gives in to obvious virtuoso display. I seriously doubt that anyone who enjoys early Scriabin and Fauré and/or who is an admirier of Mr. Hamelin will be disappointed with this disc. Pleasantly surprised perhaps, but not disappointed.

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