Recording Reviews

This is an ambitious programme that Patrick Hemmerlé, a young French pianist based in Cambridge offers us; ‘Pan,’ an extensive tone poem by Czech, Viteslav Novák (1870-1949), a pupil of Dvorak at the Prague Conservatoire, and La Neige, in two parts by the Russian composer Tchesnokov ( born 1982). It is not the least of the merits of Patrick Hemmerlé that he makes us discover or rediscover the masterpiece of Novak, a piano monument of nearly an hour. It has a prologue that contains the germ of all the further developments, in the following four movements brief titles: The Mountain, The Sea, The Forest…
The whole, shimmering, is unified by a melodic motif of five notes that provides the essential compositional material. We feel here a perfect mastery of the large form; listening is structured by a cyclic principle as in Franck, ideas abound but do not fragment. Stylistically one is on the border of romanticism and modernism; if certain harmonies are devilishly Debussyesque (empty fifths, whole tone scale…), they soon cede to Lisztian flights. Mountain nobility, symbolised by a hymn-like and majestic theme; agitated swell of the sea, which sees a surge of chromatic octaves; poetic dreams of the forest: all here is homage to nature. La Neige marvellously completes this world-work: it contains ,natural inspiration, unlimited virtuosity ( the two works describe less an immaculate landscape than a storm of whirling flakes), the all romantic eloquence of the piano, sprinkled with a soupçon of the minimalism of Philip Glass. The commitment of Patrick Hemmerlé is perceptible from beginning to end of the disc; his impeccable technique and his musicianship serves to perfection these two works so little known.
Sarah Leon, Classica

A mystery: the music of Roger-Ducasse remains the best kept secret of French music, only known by a handful of musicians who know its beauties. One probably needed this disc to fully reveal all its splendours.This music needs a poet, and a damn good pianist. Patrick Hemmerlé, on a magnificent Bechstein, clarifies all the complexities, throws myriads of notes as scintillating stars, sculpts the rhythm, opens this enclosed world to a garden in the wind. He also composed his programme perfectly, only picking out the masterpieces of this composer I am still in the process of discovering. Impossible not to be fascinated by this vampiric disc. 
Jean-Charles Hoffelé, Artamag

Patrick Hemmerlé has embarked on a Roger-Ducasse series of which this is the first volume. Whether he, like Martin Jones on Nimbus (NI5927), will extend this to three volumes to include works for two pianists remains to be seen, but he has made a formidable start here….Given a fine recording, Hemmerlé is going to be well worth following in this series. He has absorbed the stylistic elements at work in the music and has the technique to cope with its often extreme demands.
Jonathan Woolf, Musicweb

French pianist Patrick Hemmerlé offers three sets of variations on or by Schumann.
Viteslav Novák’s variations (on Schumann’s Op 68/34, from Album für die Jugend) are ghorgeous: although he was still as student at the Prague Conservatoire when he composed it. Novák’s work exudes life and is beautifully constructed. Hemmerlé’s performance is wondrous, his piano well prepared and recorded. The finale is gloriously exploratory, radiant in its use of upper registers: this is a stunning piece well played.

The Brahms is based on the fourth of the Bunte Blätter Op 99 – also used by Clara Schumann for her Op 20. Written in the shadow of Schumann’s attempted suicide, Brahms’ Op 9 is prfound and concentrated. Hemmerlé sustains the legato and sparse textures superbly. The Symphonic Etudes (1834 version, with two posthumous variations) exudes a superb sense of power. A phenomenally interesting disc, performed with real musical maturity.
International piano

The Pan fresco, a 55 minute “sound poem” composed in 1910 by the Czech Vitezlav Novák (1879-1949) is a rare work, hardly better known in its orchestral- later version. A kind of Daphnis and Chloë without all the Ravelian magic but animated by a long and deep flow, quite bewitching, if we let ourselves be enveloped by the ramifications of this ode to nature.
Born in 1981, the pianist Patrick Hemmerlé impresses with his mastery of musical flow and seduces with his way of managing tonal sonorities.

The French pianist Patrick Hemmerlé, who was born in Kuala Lumpur and currently lives in Cambridge, has embarked on a series with IndeSens, entitled ‘ Piano Modern recital’. The first issue begins with the tone poem ‘Pan’ by the Czech composer Viteslav Novák (1870-1949). Novak also produced an orchestral version of this piano,piece and both versions have been recorded several times before. The work oscillates between delicacy and passion, and in this recording by Patrick Hemmerlé is played very evocatively, as the pianist gives full expression to its bold harmonic developments.

… Hemmerle’s sympathetic playing is a joy, and in an album that is clearly a labour of love, has completely won me over. 
Simon Mundy for Classical music magazine