Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Godowsky's Studies on Chopin's Etudes have achieved a legendary status among piano enthusiasts. Few areas of the repertoire have such a notorious reputation for technical difficulty and audacious compositional invention. Far from being disrespectful maltreatments of Chopin's masterpieces, Godowsky's elaborations aim to extend the limits of modern piano technique. Some recast Chopin's right-hand passagework for the left hand while introducing new contrapuntal ideas; some treat the originals more freely, inverting, imitating or combining two Etudes; others are character pieces or variations based on Chopin's originals; and twenty-two of the Studies are for the left hand alone. Taken as a whole, these Studies revolutionized piano writing and expanded the polyphonic and polyrhythmic capabilities of the instrument. They remain among the most daunting challenges of the piano literature, their difficulties not always fully apparent to the listener.
Pianists brave enough to tackle this music have often been content merely to get through the notes. Marc-André Hamelin, renowned for his superhuman technical control, injects them with the required range of character, colour and musicianship, as well as breathtaking virtuosity. Uniquely available on 2CDs, this will surely be the benchmark recording for all time.
This set comes with a handsome booklet, including an essay by the Godowsky expert Jeremy Nicholas and individual commentaries by Marc-André Hamelin.