Variations in International Piano

"a questing, highly intelligent pianist... stunningly recorded at the height of her powers" — Colin Clarke

This is an impeccably programmed album of variations from the 20th and 21st centuries. The Szymanowski Variations on a Polish Theme holds whole worlds of contrasts within its lushness (including a notably dark 'Marcia funèbre'). This is set in relief against the almost Bachian purity of the Lachenmann-Schubert, based on an Ecossaise (D643). Hammond perfectly captures the spirit of the dance in its modernist garb, finding lyricism in the most disjunct lines.

Birtwistle's Variations from the Golden Mountain and John Adams' I Still Play are tributes to Bach's Goldbergs. The Birtwistle is laudably unhurried, with Hammond again finding beauty in dissonance. Adams' music is less memorable (the composer has described it as 'Satie meets Bill Evans') but receives a stunningly uncompromising performance. Hindemith's elusive Variations are the perfect prolongation, their impeccable craftsmanship reminding us of this wonderful composer's stature.

Closing with Gubaidulina's virtuoso Chaconne is a brave move, but it pays off. A companion to Hammond's 2014 Etude album, Variations reveals a questing, highly intelligent pianist with a superb technique stunningly recorded at the height of her powers.