BBC Radio 3 has named Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc André Hamelin’s new recording of Stravinsky “Disc of the Week”. Here’s a round up of highlights to date:
You are listening to BBC Radio 3’s Record Review where a pair of pianos are about to get a sacrificial pounding on my Disc of the Week … Sometimes the two piano version (of The Rite of Spring) comes as a disappointment – no orchestral colours, a reduced dynamic range – but in the case of this new one from Marc André Hamelin and Leif Ove Andsnes its such a powerfully projected traversal with such rhythmically focused playing, totally unified ensemble and, at times, so physically tense and dynamic, that I wasn’t remotely disappointed. Not for a second …. A thrilling performance with an implacable accuracy and energy that carries all before it. A glorious affirmation of the validity of Stravinsky’s piano version of The Rite of Spring … The Rite is followed by I think the finest reading of the Concerto for 2 Solo Pianos I’ve heard on record, plus Madrid, Tango and Circus Polka all for two pianos.
Even on paper – Hameilin, Andsnes, Stravinsky’s Rite – this sounded thrilling. In the hearing it surpasses even those expectations; characterful, virtuoso, collaborative – and hugely impressing … a strong candidate for Disc of the Year, never mind of the Month
Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin play the composer’s original four-hand arrangement (with a few later additions) on two pianos and make it as high-octane a display of fireworks for ten fingers as it is with a full orchestra. Their take on the music is glittering, sharp-edged, pulsing with adrenaline. Put them in a race and they would come flying across the finishing-line in first place. This is playing that pushes at the limits of what is physically possible, and yet it is still impressively exact … a brilliant album.
I’d never want to be without some of the great orchestral recordings of The Rite of Spring … But for an alternative that will really get your blood flowing, and will also bring you closer to Stravinsky’s revolutionary rhythms, give this a listen.
… If the majority of the orchestral versions had this logic, this articulation, this aggressiveness, this construction and this attire, the discography would be enjoyable! … This two-pianos Stravinsky program is perfect … This is obviously not the first recording of the Rite of Spring with two pianos, but it is certainly the only one enjoying a clear, nuanced and implacable reading on pianos as perfect and perfectly recorded.
… the playing is filled with a passion and excitement that speaks directly to the audience … A great release.
Martin Anderson, Klassisk Magazine, 1 February 2018