A Singer's Notes by Keith Kibler

A Singer’s Notes 106: The Beauty’s in the Details — Les Violins du Roy and Marc-André Hamelin in Troy

Marc-André Hamelin
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Marc-André Hamelin
Marc-André Hamelin

What might have been a confusion of bedfellows in the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall did not turn out to be so. Returning to the hall after intermission one saw the instrumentalists of Les Violons du Roy, a period orchestra fronted by a large Steinway, its lid held high. This would have been sacrilege in Boston, but it worked. Marc-André Hamelin, that master of pianistic detail, found easy company with the subtle players of the renowned orchestra. Les Violons are not afraid to make a luscious sound now and then. In the slow air from Rameau’s Les Boréades which opened the concert, the bassoon solo gave us what might have been the most beautiful five minutes of the evening—her counter-melody just that little bit too slow and its sound beguiling. Mr. Hamelin played what sounded like an improvised cadenza in the Haydn concerto he undertook which was full of fancy and gentleness. I had always heard this pianist referred to as a “titan,” a “thunderer,” but he was not in this concert. He sat still on the bench. Thought the rhythms were crisp and direct, the effect was intimate, especially in the childlike cadenza (which might also have disturbed purists on either side of the early music divide). Mattieu Lussier was the clear and unostentatious conductor, helping his players, not himself. The structures were clear, and often the texture was delicious. This was quite the warmest playing I have heard from a period orchestra. Would the concert have been different with a fortepiano? Of course, and in some ways better perhaps—not so much a contest as a partnership. But this orchestra was able to step up, and this pianist was able to collaborate. I see it as a hopeful sign that the early music movement has been able, at least in these performances, to be a flexible thing, not a rigidity, not a doctrine.

Get Mr. Hamelin’s latest recording of Debussy’s Preludes, Book IIon the Hyperion label. Not the magician of mood that Michelangeli was, clarity is not the omnipresent goal as is seems it was with Gieseking, but everywhere present is a masterful control of detail and integration. This is a recording I have listened to over and over again, always hearing something else.

Keith Kibler

About Keith Kibler

Twice a Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, Keith Kibler’s doctorate was earned at Yale University and the Eastman School of Music. He is one of the region’s most sought after teachers with students accepted at the New England Conservatory, the Juilliard School, Peabody and Hartt Conservatories, the Tanglewood Institute, and the Aspen Music School. Keith Kibler is an adjunct teacher of singing at Williams College.

A tip for our readers: How to get the most out of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review for the Arts.
What if I hate reading on computer screens, even tablets?
We get occasional inquiries from readers about whether we plan to launch a print edition of our arts journals. The answer is that we've given it some thought, and we're still thinking about it.
It is not only our older readers who object to reading them online. There are even some millennials who would rather read from paper. One of our readers got the simple idea of using the sites as sophisticated tables of contents. She prints out each article on three-hole paper and files them in a loose-leaf album. I've devoted a lot of time to finding the very best print and pdf facility there is. Just click on one of the icons at the top right of the article and print!
Click here to make your tax-deductible donation to The Arts Press, publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review. Or click on the notice in the sidebar. The Arts Press is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Arts Press must be made payable to“Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.