Marc-André Hamelin’s imagination feeds engaging invention in nine compositions for piano – and he can play them, too. Perhaps inevitably he couldn’t resist adding to the Paganini commentaries (based on the seemingly inexhaustible Twenty-Fourth Caprice for violin), invoking Rachmaninov in the process, and Liszt (in terms of campanology). As for My feelings about chocolate, it would appear to be ninety-percent cocoa … and what follows holds the attention for the surprises of the unknown (and becomes known if not entirely familiar until next time): the six pieces in “old form” are bright-day jazzy, whereas the Barcarolle is fathoms-deep in expression – one marking is “ondeggiando” (undulating) – and magnetises the ears through its economy, each note significant. Otherwise a meeting with Beethoven (and Diabelli) is short if pugilistic, and the Pavane is as varied as the title suggests, which would have been a fitting climax to the seventy-four-minute recital, were it not for the sinewy substance of the Chaconne that follows. For the final lap, Meditation on Laura (David Raksin’s song) invites from a distance, and Toccata on L’homme armé builds to a powerful conclusion. With first-class sound from Oscar Torres (January 2023, Henry Wood Hall, London) and Andrew Keener’s production values, with the pianist-composer doing the rest, Hyperion CDA68308 (released on February 2) is eminently recommendable and revealing.

https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA68308