Marc-André Hamelin (detail) View full image

Marc-André Hamelin’s Bolcom wins critics’ prize

Marc-André Hamelin has been awarded a prestigious German Record Critics’ Prize for his recordings of the complete William Bolcom Rags on Hyperion.

The citation for the award read: ‘The Canadian super-pianist Marc-André Hamelin, universally praised for his infallible technique, has often proved that one cannot separate heart and mind. Even wild, unusual works that are considered unplayable are transformed into islands of happiness in his hands. Hamelin is therefore always on the 'best' lists, and he has also been awarded a number of annual prizes, but never for something so sweetly lyrical, outrageously funny, enigmatic and full of life, and at the same time suffused with mourning syncopation, as the complete rags of the American composer William Bolcom. Most of these pieces were written in the late 1960s. While outside the Vietnam War protests were redefining American society, Bolcom and his (white) friends discovered black rags for themselves and, as Bolcom recalls, sent each other freshly composed rags by mail, ‘like chess problems’.

The German Record Critics’ Association is made up of 160 members who are active in assessing recorded music. Its annual awards are made to people from the music world who ‘set new standards in their respective spheres of activity and at the same time stand up for the record as a cultural asset’.