Pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin rocked the classical world with a left-field win

The Quebec artist known for his embrace of Chopin will perform on Saturday as part of the new season of the Edmonton Chamber Music Society

Content of the article

Charles Richard-Hamelin was 12 years old when he first fell under the influence of Frédéric Chopin.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

“My teacher, Paul Surdulescu, gave me my first Chopin piece,” the critically acclaimed Canadian pianist recounts from his home in Quebec. “It was a bit technical, but also much easier than his larger scale works. Because of this, I fell in love with the language and a whole piano world opened up so many possibilities and colors to me.

Content of the article

Each year after, Surdulescu gave Richard-Hamelin a new Chopin piece to learn, and each year that piece became his new favorite piece. The budding prodigy was not only interested in mastering the difficult aspects of the Polish composer, he also felt a kinship with him. But Richard-Hamelin, who will be in town performing pieces by Chopin and Ravel at the Robertson-Wesley United Church for the Edmonton Chamber Music Society’s second concert of the 2022/2023 season, was definitely hooked in 2015.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

It was then that the 30-year-old picked up a silver medal and the Krystian-Zimerman Prize for the best performance of a Chopin sonata at the 17th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. It was an unexpected victory that not only surprised the world of classical music, but also splashed his performance on all social networks.

« Everyone knew me at that time because of YouTube, » he laughs. “From that moment, my career really took off, not only in Canada, but also internationally.

Many artists can be forced to be associated with a single composer, but Richard-Hamelin ignores this.

“As pianists, we’re so lucky to have such a vast repertoire,” he says. “Chopin is a bit like us, he didn’t write much for other instruments and it’s an important work. It is also always of such quality. Chopin didn’t write much that isn’t performed or valued except for a few early works. So if people identify me with Chopin, I’m completely okay with that.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

Fortunately, Richard-Hamelin’s repertoire goes further than that. Besides Chopin, he has recorded several Beethoven-based albums with Montreal Symphony Orchestra violinist and concertmaster Andrew Wan, this year winning a Juno Award for Best Classical Recording for Small Ensemble. Wan and Richard-Hamelin continue their artistic relationship by collaborating on an album containing Robert Schumann’s three violin sonatas, due out in November.

Then, of course, there is Ravel, who, according to Richard-Hamelin, is greatly indebted to Chopin.

« Ravel and Debussy and the French school owe a lot to his research into harmony and color, so the whole language of the piano really expanded with Chopin, » he explains. “In fact, there is a composer who is present and who is not played, but who is a kind of shadow on the program. I play pieces by Ravel inspired by the French Baroque composer François Couperin. Ravel wrote this play, Le Tombeau de Couperin, during World War I, when he was 40 years old and working as a truck driver. Even though he was at war in France, these movements he wrote were so full of light, not dark at all. Each was dedicated to the fallen soldiers who were his friends, and it is quite remarkable to have such uplifting music during such a dark time in his life. So I like to give people context by explaining this, and in a time of pestilence and war I think it’s interesting to make such connections to today.



Charles Richard Hamelin

When Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Where Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 123 St.

Tickets From $26 in advance from Tix on the Square

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. See our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.


Back to top button