Marc-André Hamelin, with this disc,continues in a line of distinguished composer-pianists who have written a series of études for solo piano. (Chopin,Alkan, Liszt, Scriabin, Liapunov, Godowsky and Sorabji being some of the others.)
The reason I mention these composers is that Hamelin pays tribute to some of them by using one or more of their tunes, in his studies. Chopin (No.1 and No. 10) Liszt (No 3), Alkan (No. 4), and, although unmentioned in his program notes, surely a slight reference to the heady world of Sorabji in the Prelude of No. 12.
The time of composition of these works span some years and a few of the twelve were already available on CD.
It is great to now have a complete set.
The music is of the highest order, with composing of great diversity, feeling and wit.
The first study employs not two (à la Godowsky) but three Chopin studies, in one piece. The idea verges on the outrageous, but in Hamelin's music, and fingers, it works!
Needless to say, the technical demands made on the pianist, in this case the composer himself, are gargantuan.
It is only my personal opinion, but I believe Hamelin to be in a class of his own when it comes to technical mastery at the keyboard.
Some of the demands are almost beyond the possible and I am sure many other pianists have looked at the scores of some of these works and decided to leave well alone.
So, in summary we have here twelve studies exploring every aspect of what the piano is capable of producing.
The works are most enjoyable and very individual.
The CD is rounded off with some shorter pieces and ends with Cathy's Variations, dedicated to the Composer's wife.
It is almost superfluous to add that the recording is of the usual exemplary standard that Hyperion produces, time after time.