The British pianist Clare Hammond, still unknown in Germany, proves herself on her second CD to be a pronounced virtuoso (the first disc, on the same label, comprises the works of Andrzej Panufnik and his daughter Roxanna Panufnik). This already alludes to the title 'Etude', although she does not present earlier, compositionally rather primitive etudes, but some works from the later history of this genre, which combine pianistic and technical problems with compositional and expressive demands. Here the late-romantic Russian composer Sergey Lyapunov clearly walks in the footsteps of Franz Liszt, not only with the titles of his etudes, but also in their sonic effect. These dark-toned studies, to which Clare Hammond adds rhythmic drive, nevertheless prove to be absolutely delightful.
The previously recorded six Etudes (from a planned 12-part cycle) by the Korean Unsuk Chin, living in Berlin, are technically intricate challenges with varying poetic and narrative characteristics. While in the first recording of the work, by the Korean Mei Yi Foo (Odradek Records 1700302), the poetic and coloristic components were more to the fore, Clare Hammond chooses a decidedly sporty virtuosic approach. The performance is usually somewhat faster, while she slightly decreases the tension in the more subdued passages. In contrast to the interpreter, who wrote the sleeve notes herself, it must be stressed that the parallel with Chin's teacher György Ligeti does not get one very far: while Ligeti consistently develops predominantly mathematical ideas in his piano studies, it is the exploration of the expressive potential of sound and registral changes which is preeminent in Unsuk Chin's.
Clare Hammond also proves to be a superior technician in the late-impressionist studies by Karol Szymanowski and the jazzy pieces by Nikolai Kapustin, yet she is also able to unfold a tremendous breadth of tone in this context. An interesting compilation which is well worth hearing, rolled out from the piano paths.
Dr. Hartmut Lück