Clare Hammond's second audiophile release on BIS is simply titled Étude, though her program is a bit unexpected and quite exciting for its fresh material. Instead of playing the most familiar études in the piano repertoire, such as the sets by Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninov, Hammond explores the keyboard studies of Sergey Lyapunov, Unsuk Chin, Karol Szymanowski, and Nikolai Kapustin, which make fascinating listening for anyone venturing beyond the standard fare. While etudes are usually focused on the development of specific keyboard techniques, composers since the Romantic era have also infused them with strong moods and dramatic gestures, often treating them as character pieces or short tone poems. The three etudes from Lyapunov's set of 12 Études d'exécution transcendante are lush and atmospheric, and rather reminiscent of early Rachmaninov in their intense surges and rhythmic dynamism. By way of contrast, Chin's piano etudes are elaborate structures built on angular lines, short gestures, and pan-chromatic harmonies, employing the most complex of modern piano techniques. Szymanowski's set of 12 Studies bridges the divide between Romantic and modern styles, yet shares a certain similarity to the etudes of another great pianist-composer on the stylistic cusp, Alexander Scriabin. Kapustin's jazzy Five Études in Different Intervals tackles the problem of executing parallel intervals, though the studies on minor seconds, major seconds, and fourths reflect their common use in modern harmony. Hammond's playing is consistently energetic and brilliant, and through it, she convincingly demonstrates that this body of work should be much better known.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|12 Études d'exécution transcendante|
|12 Studies, Op. 33|
|Five Études in Different Intervals, Op. 68|