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Even by Hamelin’s exalted standards, this Liszt and Thalberg recital reaches Olympian heights. In Hexaméron – Liszt’s rather than Schumann’s Carnaval – his physical and musical strength of purpose are his alone to command. Here, Liszt’s guests and fellow virtuosi include Herz, Pixis, Thalberg, Czerny and Chopin, whose music adds alternating grace and glitter to the ‘monstrous’ (Liszt’s own description) proceedings. The difficulties are outlandish and who but Hamelin could throw off the cascades of notes in such nonchalant and majestic fashion? Try Pixis’ variation ‘di bravura’ and you will be leftopen- mouthed. Even when compared with Earl Wild’s stinging brilliance in Thalberg’s Don Pasquale Fantasy, Hamelin never offers anything other than a musically motivated phrase. His programme is crowned by a performance of Liszt’s Réminiscences de Norma in the grandest of grand manners. Superbly recorded, this is a disc to treasure, and not just for virtuoso fanciers.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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