What are you looking for in pieces of new piano music? Marc André Hamelin



Marc-André Hamelin
Photo by Tina Foster

It’s very hard for me to be specific about what I’m looking for in contemporary piano music, since I’m fundamentally very open to anything. Of course this doesn’t mean I like everything that comes my way; as a matter of fact I would say that my personal ‘filter’ has microscopically small holes! I guess that, as simplistic as it may sound, the music has to speak to me. This applies to repertoire of any period, not just contemporary music. I also look for evidence of composers’ mastery of actual compositional technique; the more successfully and unobtrusively it serves their artistic goal, the more I’m likely to be interested.

Also, a pianist always appreciates pieces that are especially well cast for the instrument, demonstrating an intimate understanding of comfort at the keyboard. However, if the music is especially wonderful but not particularly pianistic, I, personally, am usually willing to go through whatever obstacles are involved in order to introduce the music to audiences.