Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin Review – Double the Pleasure

Symphony Center, was the place to be on Sunday, April 30th, to hear the music of not one, but two world-renowned pianists. Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin joined forces for an afternoon of pieces written for duo piano that will long be remembered. Since winning the $300,000 Gilmore Artist Award in 1998, Andsnes, 47, has enjoyed a stellar career that includes six prestigious Gramophone Awards. An intrepid interpreter with an exceptionally wide-ranging repertory, Hamelin, 55, has made some 70 recordings for the well-respected Hyperion label.

 

Leif Ove Andsnes

When Leif Ove Andsnes visited Chicago last year, Chicago Splash Magazine’s own Debra Davy interviewed this highly regarded Norwegian piano virtuoso and well- known chamber musician and shared that (Leif Ove Andsnes interview).

 

“Andsnes, a much decorated, highly praised and exceptionally prolific performer, and the son of two music teachers, debuted with the Berlin Philharmonic at 22. He has won 10 Spellemannprisen (Norwegian Grammys), and been given Norway’s most distinguished honor, Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. He was the recipient of a 1998 Gilmore Artist Award, or “genius grant”. The winner of 6 Gramaphone awards, he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2013. Nominated for 8 Grammy Awards, he now records solely for Sony Classical.”

  

Leif Ove Andsnes

Of Stravinsky’s "The Rite of Spring", Leif Ove Andsnes said, “For people who know the orchestral version very well and they hear it on two pianos, they get a fresh look into the piece. It becomes so transparent how the composition is built, its intrinsic workmanship. It’s very fascinating.” – And, so it was.

 

Leif Ove Andsnes

 

From Canada comes the winner of the 1985 Carnegie Hall Competition, Marc-André Hamelin who was born in Montreal. He began to play the piano at the age of five, and by the age of nine had already won top prize in the Canadian Music Competition. Mr. Hamelin's father, a pharmacist by trade who was also a gifted amateur pianist, had introduced him to the works of Alkan, Medtner and Sorabji when he was still very young. Mr. Hamelin’s principal teachers included Gilles Hamelin, Yvonne Hubert, Harvey Wedeen and Russell Sherman; he studied at the École Vincent d'Indy in Montreal and then at Temple University in Philadelphia. An Officer of the Order of Canada since 2003 and a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec since 2004, Mr. Hamelin is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada and features prominently in the book The Composer-Pianists: Hamelin and the Eight by Robert Rimm, published by Amadeus Press. Mr. Hamelin makes his home in the Boston area with his wife, Cathy Fuller.

 

The Duo piano aspect presents technical hurdles that are different than, say, accompanying a violinist or taking part with a violinist and cellist in a piano trio, especially the rigorous synchronicity it requires. “When you have two pianos with two very precise attacks, if you are not absolutely together, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb, so you really, really have to be attuned to each other,” Hamelin said.

  

Marc-André Hamelin

Added Andsnes: “Most pianists are a little bit afraid of this because it feels vulnerable when it comes to pianists having different touches. It’s an instrument of such precision, because of the verticality, the nature of the instrument, the striking of the strings. Simply to the feel the timing, the rhythm together, can be very challenging.”

 

Because of these challenges, finding the right keyboard partner is crucial. Hamelin admits that he didn’t know how it would work out the first time he paired with Andsnes. “But it happened to be a really wonderful musical fit, which I was very happy about because I’ve always liked very much Leif Ove as a musician,” Hamelin said. “But getting to know him as a person was a huge plus, because on a human level, he is just so wonderful to be with.”

  

Marc-André Hamelin

PROGRAM

Mozart Larghetto and Allegro in E-flat Major for Two Pianos
Stravinsky Concerto for Two Pianos
Debussy En blanc et noir
Stravinsky The Rite of Spring

Stravinsky Madrid for Two Pianos from Four Studies for Orchestra (transc. Soulima Stravinsky) [ENCORE]
Stravinsky Circus Polka for Two Pianos (transc. Babin) [ENCORE]
Stravinsky Tango for Two Pianos (transc. Babin) [ENCORE]

 


Stravinsky Concerto for Two Pianos
Debussy En blanc et noir
Stravinsky The Rite of Spring

Stravinsky Madrid for Two Pianos from Four Studies for Orchestra (transc. Soulima Stravinsky) [ENCORE]
Stravinsky Circus Polka for Two Pianos (transc. Babin) [ENCORE]
Stravinsky Tango for Two Pianos (transc. Babin) [ENCORE]

 

Each of the pieces was thrilling and perfection and doubly fascinating.  The audience was thrilled.

Photos:Courtesy of CSO

Information about upcoming programs can be found on the CSO website.

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