Marc-André Hamelin is a remarkable pianist. He is not so remarkable a musician.

He can make the piano produce good, clear sound. One could hear every note even in the most massive chords.

His Haydn charmed with strong trills but in the end, with too much chiaroscuro, it sounded more like Schuman than Haydn, and Schuman's Fantasiestücke that followed it lacked Romantic flair I wanted to hear.

His own small piano pieces were trite and timid with nothing new in harmonics.

He was at his best with Alkan, a mid 19th-century eccentric, who wrote technically challenging virtuoso pieces, meritorious primarily for the difficulty they presented but musically boring. There is probably no one today who can play Alkan as well as Hamelin or is willing to. It received a resounding applause. Pyrotechnics is always a crowd pleaser. He was spectacular in that.

He should enter the Olympics.

Marc-André Hamelin performed for Philadelphia Chamber Music Society at Perelman Theater in Philadelphia on 10 May 2002.

T. Kaori Kitao, 05.10.02


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