Pianist Marc-André Hamelin is known worldwide for his unrivaled blend of consummate musicianship and brilliant technique in the great works of the established repertoire, as well as for his intrepid exploration of the rarities of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries—in concert and on disc.
One such master of rare piano pieces is Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Though a trained pianist, Castelnuovo-Tedesco is actually one of the foremost guitar composers in the 20th century with almost 100 compositions for that instrument, as well as a film composer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for some 200 Hollywood movies.
As his opening piece for his SAT / OCT 5 performance, Mr. Hamelin will perform Cipressi (Cypresses), which, as the name implies, is an evocation of cypress trees, in this case at the Villa Forti in Usigliano, where Castelnuovo-Tedesco spent many of his summers during the 1920s. This piece is what pianists call a “find,” a mostly unknown but richly textured and immediately appealing piano piece, beautifully written for the instrument, fun to play and just as much fun to hear.
Another composer that Mr. Hamelin will showcase is Alexander Scriabin. He was a Russian composer and pianist who was influenced early in his life by the works of Frédéric Chopin. Scriabin was one of the most innovative and most controversial of early modern composers. He had a major impact on the music world over time and influenced a few composers; however, this drastically declined after his death.
Recently, Scriabin’s musical aesthetics have been rediscovered and championed by renowned pianists, including Mr. Hamelin. In 1997, Mr. Hamelin performed Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 5, in Casals Hall, Tokyo. For his Sunday, OCT 6, Portland Piano concert, Mr. Hamelin brings Scriabin’s Fantasy in B minor, Op. 28 to life on stage.
Fantasie in B minor, Op. 28, was written in 1900. This is a single sonata form movement that bridges the gap between Scriabin's third and his fourth sonata. Scriabin wrote this piece during an otherwise compositionally unproductive period during his tenure at the Moscow Conservatory, and there is no evidence of Scriabin having played the piece in public. It is a beautiful, hidden work by a master that is performed wonderfully by another master, Mr. Hamelin.