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Kenneth Hamilton plays Liszt – Volume 2: Salon and Stage (PFCD210/211) £15.00

Kenneth Hamilton – piano
An Official Specialist Classical Chart Top 3 Recording
An Official Classical Artists Album Chart Top 20 Recording
A Guardian Classical CD Pick of the Week
An AllMusic "Classical Highlight"
A Music Web International Recommended Recording
A Klassik Heute Recommended Recording
An Arts Fuse "Best Album of 2023"
No. 1 of the Guardian Top 10 Classical Recordings of 2023

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CD 1

1. Richard Wagner/Franz Liszt: Overture to Tannhäuser
2. Wagner/Liszt: “Song to the Evening Star” from Tannhäuser
3. Franz Schubert/Liszt: Soirée de Vienne no.6 (revised version)
4. Schubert/Liszt: “Leise flehen meine Lieder” (with late cadenza)
5. Wagner/Liszt: “Am stillen Herd” from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
6. Eduard Lassen/Liszt: “Ich weil’ in tiefer Einsamkeit”
7. Lassen/Liszt: “Löse, Himmel, meine Seele”
8. Felix Mendelssohn/Liszt: “Auf Flügeln des Gesanges”
9. Wagner/Liszt: “Spinning Song” from Der fliegende Holländer
10. Charles Gounod/Liszt: Hymn to St Cecilia

CD 2

1. Peter Tchaikovsky/Liszt: Polonaise from Eugene Onegin
2. Hans von Bülow/Liszt: Dante’s Sonnet
3. Giuseppe Verdi/Liszt: Rigoletto-Paraphrase
4. Giacomo Meyerbeer/Liszt: “Illustration” no.1 from L’Africaine
5. Verdi /Liszt: Aida-Paraphrase
6. Liszt: Liebesträume no.1, “Hohe Liebe”
7. Liszt: Liebesträume no.2, “Seliger Tod”
8. Liszt: Liebesträume no.3, “O Lieb”
9. Verdi/Liszt: Ernani-Paraphrase
10. Clara Schumann/Liszt: “Geheimes Flüstern hier und dort”
11. Gounod/Liszt: Waltz from Faust

Reviews

"I have not heard such an outstanding Liszt recital for a very long time. Kenneth Hamilton unquestionably plays on the level of the greatest virtuosos…This recording is not just unreservedly recommended to all friends of the piano and of Romanticism, but is an absolute must-have." Thomas Baack, Klassik Heute Artistic Quality 10/10; Sound Quality 10/10; Overall Impression 10/10 A Klassik Heute Recommended Recording

“Hamilton is an unusual virtuoso, offering penetrating insights into Liszt’s music not just with his playing but also with his scholarship. You emerge from the notes as well as the music with your appreciation of Liszt’s extraordinary musicianship significantly enhanced.” Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review, 15.07.23

"Pianistic flair and technical brilliance are the hallmarks of this winning record… Hamilton’s ability to combine pianistic flair and technical brilliance with an acute understanding of how this music came into existence makes these performances very special indeed. 5 Stars" Andrew Clements, The Guardian No. 1 of the Guardian Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2023

“My reaction to Hamilton’s superb playing is an appreciation of the hugely diverse emotional effect of these pieces, and a sense of the numinous which should always be present in Liszt’s music. One must not overlook the sheer technical wizardry: Kenneth Hamilton fully satisfies my expectations.” John France, Music Web International

“Kenneth Hamilton is a specialist in Liszt’s music, and it is good to see not only that he has embarked on a major series of Liszt recordings, but that this one, the second in the series, landed on Classical best seller lists…Liszt lovers will have a feast here.” James Manheim, AllMusic

“A glorious triumph… a wonderful voyage of discovery, with a splendid tour guide.” Ralph P. Locke, Arts Fuse

“an engrossing listen… Hamilton once more emerges as a born Lisztian in his unforced virtuosity… This is as well conceived and ear-opening a collection as its predecessor, and is as warmly recommended. Vol 3 is keenly awaited.” Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone

“The first volume of Kenneth Hamilton’s Liszt was very well received, and on the strength of this second double CD one can hear why. He knows when to storm and when to reflect, and there is impressive playing of the utmost delicacy…This is a cracking disc in great sound, a marvellous blend of the familiar and unfamiliar.” Rob Challinor, Music Web International

"For anyone who has encountered the first volume in what I hope is a long, long series of recordings, the words “Kenneth Hamilton plays Liszt Volume 2” will be sufficient to have them reaching for their wallet… Hamilton has pulled off a considerable coup in finding a new and invigorating way to present this trickiest of corners of Liszt’s output in a way that can help the modern listener to grasp why this music was such a big deal at the time. But more than that, this is a set that allows Liszt to woo, wow and seduce us all over again." David McDade, Music Web International

Salon and Stage CD

Prima Facie present 'Salon and Stage', the second volume of Kenneth Hamilton’s internationally acclaimed Liszt series. In contrast to the first album, 'Death and Transfiguration', this recording offers a life-enhancing selection of virtuoso transcriptions from song and opera. But it happily shares with its predecessor Hamilton’s passion for these pieces. He has sought out Liszt’s oft-ignored recommendations on their interpretation and studied the reminiscences and recordings of his students. He has, in effect, tried to think like a Liszt pupil, and to immerse himself in a performance tradition that goes well beyond the printed text.

His rendition of Schubert’s haunting “Leise flehen meine Lieder”, for example, includes a captivating cadenza composed by the elderly Liszt forty years after first arranging the song. His 'Soirée de Vienne no.6' features piquant revisions written for Sophie Menter, Liszt’s favourite female student; while his touchingly unsentimental performance of the famous third 'Liebestraum' adopts authentic variants passed down by Frederick Lamond, one of Liszt’s very last pupils, and is played with an attentive ear to the composer’s own advice on interpretation.

Credits

Cover Image: Heinrich Maximilian (Max) Brückner (1836-1919), Stage Design (Bayreuth, 1891) for Act 3 of Wagner’s Tannhäuser
Photo of Kenneth Hamilton courtesy of the Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music, Bangkok, Thailand
Recorded at Cardiff University School of Music on 18 July 2019, 22 August 2020 and 5-6 February 2022
Piano: Steinway Model D (Hamburg)
Piano preparation: Ulrich Gerhartz
Piano technicians: Kait Farbon and Gavin Crooks
Recording Producer: Stephen Plews
Recording Editor: Philip Hardman
Booklet Editor: Monika Hennemann

You can read Kenneth Hamilton's sleeve notes from Salon and Stage on the Prima Facie blog, Recitative.

Kenneth Hamilton

Kenneth Hamilton
Described by the Moscow Kommersant as “an outstanding virtuoso−one of the finest players of his generation”, by the Singapore Straits Times as “a formidable virtuoso,” by Tom Service in the Guardian as "pianist, author, lecturer and all-round virtuoso", and by Stefan Pieper in Klassik Heute as a “pianist, scholar, maverick thinker and philosopher”, Kenneth Hamilton is well-known internationally as a recitalist and recording artist of emotional depth and striking originality. His CDs have attracted both critical acclaim and a large number of listeners worldwide. His best-selling 'After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance' (Oxford University Press) is one of the most influential books on piano performance in recent decades.

Hamilton is deeply grateful for his pianistic training in Scotland with Lawrence Glover and Ronald Stevenson, experience that later informed his recordings of Stevenson’s music. He has appeared frequently on radio and television in Britain, the US, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, China and Russia, including a performance of Chopin’s first piano concerto with the Istanbul Chamber Orchestra on Turkish Television, and a dual role as pianist and presenter for the television programme Mendelssohn in Scotland, broadcast by Deutsche Welle Channel. He is a familiar artist on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and the World Service, and a keen communicator, enthusiastically promoting the understanding and appreciation of music. One of his most recent BBC broadcasts, in the series 'The Essay: My Life in Music', was described by Sir Nicholas Kenyon in The Observer as “Revelatory…touching...a personal story of loss and death that reaches out from the radio. That is what broadcasting is all about”.

Hamilton’s recordings for the Prima Facie label: Volumes 1 and 2 of 'Kenneth Hamilton Plays Ronald Stevenson', 'Back to Bach: Tributes and Transcriptions by Liszt, Rachmaninov and Busoni', 'Preludes to Chopin' and 'More Preludes to Chopin' have enjoyed outstanding reviews: “played with understanding and brilliance” (Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review); “an unmissable disk… fascinating music presented with power, passion and precision” (Colin Clarke, Fanfare);“precise control and brilliance” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian); “thrilling” (Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone); “a gorgeous recording and excellent performance” (Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide). He has also made the first recording of John Casken’s 'Six Wooded Pieces' (premiered by him at the Esplanade, Singapore, in 2019) on the CD Stolen Airs (“a terrific disc”, Fanfare).

'Death and Transfiguration', Volume 1 of his traversal of the piano music of Franz Liszt, was featured in the Guardian’s “Best Classical New Releases”, was a UK Official Classical Chart top 5 recording, a Gramophone “Best Classical Album of 2022”, a “Recording of the Week” on BBC Radio 3, and a “Music Web International Recommended Recording”.

Hamilton’s discs have attracted especial attention for the originality of their performance style. For Dr Chang Tou Liang of the Singapore Straits Times his Chopin recordings offer “a new way of listening to Chopin”, while Ralph Locke (ArtsFuse) remarked: “This is real music-making, not subservient reciting from a sacred text. Hamilton’s Chopin could change your whole attitude toward the role of the performer in classical music.” His Liszt recordings have likewise been welcomed as “liberating and totally refreshing” by Andrew Clements (The Guardian) and as “masterly” by Jeremy Nicholas (Gramophone), while David McDade (Music Web International) commented: “Just as I was beginning to despair of ever hearing a Liszt that really set the heart racing, along comes Kenneth Hamilton”.

Hamilton is Head of the School of Music at Cardiff University in Wales, UK. He has been a visiting artist and guest professor at many institutions worldwide, including the Franz Liszt Academy in Hungary and the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia, and, travel restrictions permitting, gives regular masterclasses in China and the Far East. His next CD releases will be an album of Romantic Handel, and Volume 3 of his Liszt series.