A Chat With Cleveland Orchestra Guest Pianist Marc-André Hamelin

By Mike Telin

It’s all about “the Father of the Symphony” this week at Severance Hall when British conductor Matthew Halls leads The Cleveland Orchestra in three all-Haydn programs that include the Overture to L’isola disabitata, the Concerto for Two Horns, featuring TCO horn players Richard King and Jesse McCormick, and the Symphony No. 101 (“The Clock”). Check our Concert Listings page for dates and times.

All three programs also include Haydn’s Piano Concerto No. 11 in D major featuring Marc-André Hamelin as soloist. “I’m looking forward to the concerts very much because this is my debut with The Cleveland Orchestra,” the friendly Hamelin said during a telephone conversation from his home in Boston. “I know they have tried to engage me at least once before. It’s always a problem with dates. Sometimes it just takes time for schedules to work out, but I’m happy that it did.” The concerts will also mark the first time that the Montreal-born pianist will collaborate with Matthew Halls. “I’ve never worked with him, but I am looking forward to it.”

Haydn’s 11th keyboard concerto, written between 1780 and 1783, was originally composed for harpsichord or fortepiano. “The concerto is not programmed very often and it’s a shame, because I think Haydn’s concertos have their place just as much as the concertos of Brahms, Rachmaninoff or Beethoven. Haydn’s music has a lot to offer, and this concerto in particular is always a great favorite with audiences. It’s full of energy and little surprises. The slow movement is particularly beautiful.”

Hamelin pointed out that he will be playing cadenzas written by famous harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. “The second movement cadenza is especially wonderful. It’s not a show stopper but certainly a time stopper. Even though she uses material that is largely Haydn’s, she uses it in her own way. It just makes you want to close your eyes and drift in the best possible sense.”  

Read the rest of the preview at ClevelandClassical.com.
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