Godowsky: The Complete Studies on Chopin's Etudes

Godowsky: The Complete Studies on Chopin's Etudes

by Marc-André HamelinMarc-André Hamelin


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In popular music, doing a "cover" -- creating a new version of someone else's song -- is an art in itself. And so it was on the concert stages of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when virtuosos such as Liszt, Busoni, and Rachmaninov delighted audiences with their transcriptions of celebrated classics. Polish-born pianist and composer Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938) put his own elaborate spin on dozens of works, from Bach cello suites to Schubert songs to Strauss waltzes. But his magnum opus (at least as far as transcriptions go) is this set of 56 Studies on Chopin's Études. As if Chopin's études weren't difficult enough already! Some of Godowsky's studies adhere closely to the spirit of the originals, whereas others offer more divergent variations, but all of them stretch piano technique to new limits. The intention, Godowsky wrote, was to enhance the instrument's possibilities for "polyphonic, polyrhythmic, and polydynamic work, and to widen the range of its possibilities in tone coloring." Twenty-two of the studies are for left hand alone; somehow Godowsky manages to cram two hands worth of music into five fingers. Marc-André Hamelin's performances on this exquisitely recorded Hyperion set simply boggle the mind. It's not the effortlessness of his playing that inspires awe as much as his unflappable musicality; these studies may have pedagogical intentions, but Hamelin makes beautiful music out of them. Listen to the bubbly joy of the Study No. 11 in G-flat Major, where the fluttering figuration of Chopin's famous "Butterfly" Étude is transferred from the right hand to the left. Or wrap yourself in the intricately woven textures of the Study No. 19 (based on Chopin's Étude, Op. 10, No. 10), which Hamelin sews together with a delicate thread of golden tone. With comprehensive program notes on the music's background, including lucid analyses of every study by Hamelin himself, this two-disc set is a pianophile's dream.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/11/2000
Label: Hyperion
UPC: 0034571174112
catalogNumber: 67411/2
Rank: 100475


  1. Studies (53) on Chopin Etudes for piano

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