Silver medalist and laureate of the Krystian Zimerman Prize at the 2015 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin is standing out today as one of the most important musicians of his generation. In 2014, he also won the second prize at the Montreal International Musical Competition and the third prize at the Seoul International Music Competition in South Korea. Charles is the recipient of the Order of Arts and Letters of Quebec and the prestigious Career Development Award offered by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto.
He has appeared in various prestigious festivals including La Roque d’Anthéron in France, the Prague Spring Festival, the “Chopin and his Europe” Festival in Warsaw and the Lanaudière Festival in Canada. As a soloist, he has performed with more than fifty ensembles including the main symphony orchestras of Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Métropolitain, Québec, Edmonton, Calgary…) as well as with the Warsaw Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Korean Symphony Orchestra, OFUNAM (Mexico), les Violons du Roy and I Musici de Montréal. He has played under the baton of renowned conductors such as Kent Nagano, Antoni Wit, Vasily Petrenko, Jacek Kaspszyk, Aziz Shokhakimov, Peter Oundjian, Jacques Lacombe, Fabien Gabel, Carlo Rizzi, Alexander Prior, Giancarlo Guerrero, Christoph Campestrini, Lan Shui and Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Charles Richard-Hamelin is a graduate from McGill University, the Yale School of Music, the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and has studied with Paul Surdulescu, Sara Laimon, Boris Berman, André Laplante et Jean Saulnier.
His first solo recording, which features late works by Chopin, was released in September 2015 on the Analekta label and received widespread acclaim from critics throughout the world (Diapason, BBC Music Magazine, Le Devoir) as well as a Felix Award (ADISQ). A second album, recorded live at the Palais Montcalm in Quebec City with music by Beethoven, Enescu and Chopin, was released in the fall of 2016 and also had a very positive welcome (Gramophone, La Presse, The WholeNote). The first volume of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with Andrew Wan was released in the fall of 2018 and his next projects include both Chopin Concertos with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Kent Nagano.
"The fondamental qualities that we’ve always seen in this pianist remain the same : a real sonority that comes from his entire body, a large palette of colors and a real poetic sense. With his recent gain of freedom and experience, a true discourse emerges. […] His conduct is always impeccable. By conduct, I mean the architectural and emotional conception of a work, the tempo and mood relations, the dynamic layering. Additionally, when appropriate, a highly sensitive ear to the art of transition. That is exactly what gave him high marks in Warsaw, giving listeners the impression of living an experience, especially in the Third Sonata."
Christophe Huss, Le Devoir (November 27, 2015)
"I had been waiting for such a performance since the beginning of the Competition. The man is every inch an artist, an extraordinarily mature musician who focuses on the beauty of Chopin’s works, which he performs with a high degree of consciousness. He is one of the few who can find a wise balance between the spirit of Chopin and his own individuality, which he demonstrated, for instance, in his masterful interpretation of the Ballade in A-flat major."
Róża Światczyńska, Polish Radio 2 (October 7, 2015)
"His sense of time, his sense of harmony, above all his structural originalities are immensely sophisticated and daring. Richard-Hamelin seemed to be aware of the total Chopin – not just melting us with liquid line after liquid line of Chopin’s famous melodies, but exposing inner voices and harmonic twists in both left and right hands, and illuminating Chopin’s extraordinary structural gambits, especially in his Third Sonata which closed the program. At the end of a very long program of Chopin, Hamelin entranced his audience with the soft languor of his playing at one moment, passage-work that was always musical at another, bravura playing at yet another. He is an artist firmly on a unique and original path."
Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail (January 17, 2016)
Aside from Cho’s epic performance, second-place winner Charles Richard-Hamelin also received much-earned roaring applause for his interpretation of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58. Richard-Hamelin’s set was so elegantly executed that one couldn’t help but be baffled that his performance was ranked second.
Julie Jackson, The Korea Herald (February 3, 2016)
"Charles Richard-Hamelin’s cultivated playing showed in the emotional depth of his A flat major Ballade."
John Allison, The Telegraph (October 22, 2015)
"Charles Richard-Hamelin ended the semis with a superbly absorbing concert where he seemed to follow his hands like a child after a butterfly. After an astonishing Pour le Piano by Debussy and some sweetly imaginative Scriabin, he performed Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 opulently and with unbelievable ease. He transmits love for the instrument."
Lev Bratishenko, The Gazette (June 1, 2014)
"Charles Richard-Hamelin immediately captured our interest with a depth of musicianship and maturity that was evident from the opening of the Bach Partita. The tone that he produced from the piano was beyond the capabilities of the actual instrument. In turn, he created sounds that were orchestral and soloistic, and wove intricate and beautifully voiced lines as a seasoned string quartet might. His structural and musical understanding of the large-scale Chopin sonata was exceptional, and as one juror remarked “perhaps one of the finest performances of this work I have ever heard on any professional stage”."
Press release from the jury of the 2015 WMCT CDA Competition (May 7, 2015)
"The 26 year old musician reveals all the qualities of a major pianist and, through very personal rubatos, a real connection with the legendary interpreters of this music."
Claude Gingras, La Presse (27 novembre, 2015)
"Charles Richard-Hamelin went for an intimate bonding with Rach 2 that transformed the concerto into a mesmerizing symphonic fantasy."
Laurence Vittes, The Huffington Post (June 6, 2014)
"Charles Richard-Hamelin’s delicate, well-articulated and stylistically appropriate touch could be observed in a marvellous performance of Mozart’s G-major piano trio."
Jens Christian Hansen, Viborg Stifts Folkeblad (August 21, 2014)
"Performing during the first night of the finals, he chose Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor. With precision and a palette of nuances, he led the audience through a musical journey, brimming with musicality and sustaining the tension throughout. In the adagio, Richard-Hamelin revealed a softer side and created a crystal-like melody. He also succeeded in showcasing multiple contrasting voices. One hopes to hear him in concert more often during the upcoming years."
Christine ML Lee, La Scena Musicale (October 2014 Vol. 20-2)