Described by the Moscow Kommersant as “an outstanding virtuosoone of the finest players of his generation”, by Tom Service in the Guardian as “pianist, author, lecturer and all-round virtuoso”, and by Stefan Pieper in Klassik Heute as a “pianist, scholar, radical thinker and philosopher”, Kenneth Hamilton is well-known as a recitalist and recording artist of emotional depth and striking originality. His CDs have attracted both critical acclaim and a large number of listeners worldwide. His best-selling After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (Oxford University Press) is one of the most internationally influential books on Classical music performance of recent decades, and has been translated into several languages.
Hamilton is deeply grateful for his pianistic training in Scotland with Lawrence Glover and Ronald Stevenson. He has appeared frequently on radio and television in Britain, the US, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, China and Russia, including a performance of Chopin’s first piano concerto with the Istanbul Chamber Orchestra on Turkish Television, and in a dual role as pianist and presenter for the television programme Mendelssohn in Scotland, broadcast by Deutsche Welle Channel. He is a familiar artist on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and the World Service, and a keen communicator, enthusiastically promoting the understanding and appreciation of music. One of his most recent BBC broadcasts, in the series The Essay: My Life in Music, was described by Sir Nicholas Kenyon in The Observer as “Revelatory…touching...a personal story of loss and death that reaches out from the radio. That is what broadcasting is all about”.
Hamilton’s recordings for the Prima Facie label: Volumes 1 and 2 of Kenneth Hamilton Plays Ronald Stevenson, Back to Bach: Tributes and Transcriptions by Liszt, Rachmaninov and Busoni, Preludes to Chopin; More Preludes to Chopin and Romantic Piano Encores have enjoyed outstanding reviews: “played with understanding and brilliance” (Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review); “an unmissable disk… fascinating music presented with power, passion and precision” (Colin Clarke, Fanfare);“precise control and brilliance” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian); “thrilling” (Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone); “a gorgeous recording and excellent performance” (Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide). He has also made the first recording of John Casken’s Six Wooded Pieces (premiered by him at the Esplanade, Singapore, in 2019) on the CD Stolen Airs (“a terrific disc”, Fanfare).
The double-CD Liszt album Death and Transfiguration was a Gramophone “Best Classical Album of 2022”, a Recording of the Week on BBC Radio 3, a Music Web International Recommended Recording, and featured in the Guardian Best Classical New Releases. His latest release is Volume 2 of his Liszt series: an album of fantasies and transcriptions entitled Salon and Stage.
All of Hamilton’s recent discs have entered the UK Classical Charts, with Death and Transfiguration featuring in the top 5. Preludes to Chopin has been streamed online nearly a million times, while More Preludes to Chopin was chosen as one of Spotify’s “Best Classical New Releases”. Both have attracted widespread attention for the originality of their performance style. For Dr Chang Tou Liang of the Singapore Straits Times they offer “a new way of listening to Chopin”. Stefan Pieper (Klassik Heute) commented: “Hamilton’s approach to Chopin ignores the pianistic fashions of today’s music market, challenges the dogmas of historical performance practice, and offers an entire palette of new and intriguing experiences”, James Manheim (AllMusic) wrote: “The commercial success of this release shows how strongly audiences hunger for fresh interpretations of mainstream repertory, and a fresh interpretation is exactly what you get“, while Ralph Locke (ArtsFuse) remarked: “This is real music-making, not subservient reciting from a sacred text. Hamilton’s Chopin could change your whole attitude toward the role of the performer in classical music.”
Kenneth Hamilton is Head of the School of Music at Cardiff University in Wales, UK. He has been a visiting artist and guest professor at many institutions worldwide, including the Franz Liszt Academy in Hungary and the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia, and, travel restrictions permitting, gives regular masterclasses in China and the Far East.
Head of School of Music,