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#907878 - 01/27/03 05:29 PM Review of Hamelin performing Busoni Concerto
jeffylube Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/02
Posts: 716
Loc: Weatherford, Texas
Friday January 24, 2003

Andrew Litton, conductor
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Dallas Symphony Chorus
David R. Davidson, director

Debussy: Nocturnes for orchestra & female chorus
Busoni: Piano Concerto in C Major (w/male chorus), Op. 39

*Second Half Review*

I wouldn't say I'm the best at writing reviews, but I'll go ahead and try to give you my best impression of the concert.

At the start of the second half, after Hamelin was seated at the piano and the conductor had his baton in the air ready to start, a crying baby started it's encore in the hallways outside of the auditorium (previously, in the first half of the programme, it was crying IN the auditorium for about 12 seconds). Apparently the baby was in motion because you could hear the noise circling around the corridors. Well Mr. Litton, the conductor, didn't start when this happened. He paused as his hand was in the air, stopped and turned around to the audience. The audience bursted out into laughter and Litton said "if I had a baby that young, he would be in bed by 7". The audience bursted into laughter and applause again. Mr. Litton continued "You're either going to love or hate this piece for the next 70 minutes. But one thing that will contribute to not liking it is being distracted by unnecessary noise. Let's please try and keep the distractions down." Again, the audience applauded.

I think this little baby incident may have broke whatever spell that Hamelin was in when he came out onto the stage. In about the first 1 or 2 minutes of his entrance into the concerto, he played I think 3 wrong notes that I heard clearly. They weren't so bad as to being noticable by someone that's never heard the concerto before, but I myself have heard it numerous times and therefore noticed it. Hamelin's playing is I think very accurate, as he played the rest of the concerto about as note perfect as I could tell.

About the concerto, seeing it in person it's even more difficult to play than what you hear on a recording. There are many parts where the soloist is all over the keyboard, but you can't hear it because of the orchestra playing at a louder volume. Hamelin was doing things that were at the zenith of technical difficulty. I have never seen arms move so fast in so far of opposite directions before. I was sitting there sweating just watching him, and he was constantly wiping his face with a cloth throughtout the performance.

When the finale came and the chorus started, you got the sense that this is what all of the hard work is for. It was the most refreshing sound you could have heard after listening to the concerto for an hour. One thing that I wasn't aware of until I saw the programme, is that the concerto is joined by an "offstage choir". So needless to say, the choir wasn't on stage, but instead in an upper room hidden from audience view. We could see a glimpse of them from our seats. The balance between orchestra, piano and choir was very good, and it produced the sound in almost an identical way as you hear on a recording of the piece. In the programme there was the translation of the words the choir was singing. Very powerfull stuff. If you want me to write post it, just let me know.

After the concert, I went to the greenroom to see if Hamelin was there, and sure enough, he was there sitting on a sofa talking to a fan. There was only about 5 or 6 people in the room, so I got to hear what he was saying. He is one of the NICEST people you could possibly meet. He would stand up, shake your hand, sit down in the sofa while you sat down in a chair and he would just talk to you like he was a friend. One guy was getting 2 or 3 autographs from him. I got my programmed signed by him, and I made a couple of comments that got him laughing. I said "I've been waiting a long time to hear this piece and I really enjoyed it" and then he would just start talking about him playing it in Japan 2 years ago and how it was virtually unknown over there despite having been writtin so long ago. He said he really enjoyed being able to give 3 straight performances of it here since he hardly gets the chance to play it in public.

He's not nearly as tall or big as I thought he was. He was about my height (5'10"-5'11") and looked to be about my weight. I thought he was a bigger fellow than that. I asked him about having such still wrists when he plays and how he hardly ever pulls his elbows away from his body, and he said that he just likes to conserve his energy.

Overall, a VERY enjoyable evening and quite a nice impression of Marc-Andre Hamelin.

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#907879 - 01/27/03 08:52 PM Re: Review of Hamelin performing Busoni Concerto
Piano World Offline

Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 6072
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
Jeffylube, thank you for taking the time to post your review of the concert. Sounds like you enjoyed yourself.

Does he really keep his wrists still? (ouch)

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#907880 - 01/28/03 02:39 PM Re: Review of Hamelin performing Busoni Concerto
Praetorian_AD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/01
Posts: 717
Loc: England
Wow! Sounds like a really cool concert (will check out the concerto) Wish I could have met him! Problem is, I can never think of things to say to these great musicians... \:\)

#907881 - 01/28/03 10:24 PM Re: Review of Hamelin performing Busoni Concerto
Rich Galassini Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 10418
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey

Thanks for the review. \:\)
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
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