Kenneth Hamilton

Pianist, author, lecturer and all-round virtuoso“ (Tom Service, The Guardian)

Kenneth Hamilton pianist

Hailed by the Moscow Kommersant as "an outstanding virtuoso−one of the finest players of his generation" and by the Singapore Straits Times as "a formidable virtuoso," Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton performs internationally as a recitalist and concerto soloist. He is also well-known as a recording artist and writer. His CDs have attracted both critical acclaim and a large number of listeners worldwide; his award-winning book, the Classical music best-seller After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (Oxford University Press), was welcomed as "full of wit and interest, and written with passion" by Charles Rosen (Times Literary Supplement), and as a "deft and sympathetic account of the old school virtuosos" by Alex Ross (The New Yorker).

Hamilton is deeply grateful for his pianistic training in Scotland with Lawrence Glover and Ronald Stevenson, experience that later informed his performances of Stevenson’s music. 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 a dual role as pianist and presenter for the television programme Mendelssohn in Scotland, broadcast world-wide 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 enjoyment of music. Impatient with many of the tediously elitist formalities of the classical concert world, he is in the habit of addressing his audiences directly from the concert platform, informally presenting his repertoire "with energy and wit" (Anthony Tomassini, New York Times).

His 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, and Preludes to Chopin 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). Hamilton’s next releases will be the first recording of John Casken’s Six Wooded Pieces on the CD Stolen Airs (a vividly-characterised suite written for and premiered by him at the Esplanade, Singapore, in 2019) and More Preludes to Chopin.

Both Preludes to Chopin and Stevenson Volume 2 entered the UK Classical Charts immediately on their release. The Chopin disc was particularly popular−streamed online well over half a million times - and has attracted intense attention for the originality of its performance style. For Dr Chang Tou Liang of the Singapore Straits Times it offers "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", while 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."

Kenneth Hamilton is Head of the School of Music at Cardiff University in Wales, UK. He is one of the world’s leading experts on the history of piano performance in general, and on the music of Chopin and Liszt in particular. He completed a doctorate on Liszt at Balliol College, Oxford (he is indebted to his tutors, Hugh Macdonald and John Warrack, for any scholarly skills he might have), and was commissioned to write the 2011 bicentenary article on the composer for the New York Times (a "fine, unsentimental appreciation" according to Alex Ross). His ground-breaking work, After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance was a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year in the UK, a recipient of an ARSC award, and a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in the US. It has been translated into Italian, Hungarian and Mandarin. Hamilton has long been fascinated by the varied performance styles of the pianistic “Golden Age” from Liszt to Paderewski, which have been a constant source of inspiration for his own playing. As a teacher and mentor himself, he much enjoys passing on the flame to aspiring professional pianists. 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 gives regular masterclasses in China and the Far East.

Kenneth Hamilton Talks on Music and Musicians

Kenneth Hamilton on BBC Radio 3 The Essay: „Now, O now, I needs must part“

Kenneth Hamilton discusses Liszt's Legacy to his Students:

Kenneth Hamilton on Ronald Stevenson:

Prima Facie logo
Kenneth Hamilton on Prima Facie Records

More Preludes to Chopin (PFCD134) £12.50

Kenneth Hamilton - piano
An Official Classical Chart top 10 recording
Selected by Spotify as a 'very best Classical new release'

"Here is a release that stands out from the crowds by a country mile. Well recorded, played with real mastery, and including fabulously but unsurprisingly eloquent notes from Hamilton himself, any lover of Chopin’s music - and indeed of piano playing - should acquire this urgently." Colin Clarke, Fanfare

"All these pieces are superbly played… It is to be hoped that Volume 3 of this project will soon be released. It will be interesting to see what ‘longer’ pieces are coupled with the remaining Preludes." John France, Music Web International

"Both of Hamilton’s Chopin albums have been commercially successful, a testimony to the strength of audience interest in fresh interpretations of core Romantic repertory…Hamilton is a successful new voice." James Manheim, AllMusic

"Imaginative and ingenious...Hamilton’s playing is up there with the best of Chopin interpreters, and it is his spirited advocacy of programme planning by preluding that makes this recital disc stand above the routine." Dr Chang Tou Liang, Pianomania, Singapore

"Explosively brilliant piano playing…Hamilton’s technical pianistic finesse is spectacular…this isn’t a Chopin "for beginners" — instead, one can’t help quickly succumbing to the intriguingly untamed nature of Hamilton’s playing." Stefan Pieper, Klassik Heute

"Magical… Hamilton’s playing here enchanted me and kept me listening for one pleasant surprise after another, each utterly convincing…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." Ralph P. Locke, ArtsFuse

Kenneth Hamilton plays Ronald Stevenson Vol 2 (PFCD107) £12.50

Kenneth Hamilton: piano
An Official Classical Chart Top 20 Recording

"[Hamilton’s] first release of Stevenson’s music gained widespread attention in Germany and North America as well as in Britain. Stevenson’s music uses stylistic elements from the past, and his music fell out of favour with the modernist claque. In Hamilton’s hands, however, it’s clear that there’s not a bit of nostalgia or neo-Romanticism in Stevenson’s music… Stevenson seems to open up a vast new range of possibilities. His student’s performances may be taken as definitive for now." James Manheim, Allmusic

Preludes to Chopin (PFCD084) £12.50

Kenneth Hamilton - piano
An Official Classical Chart Top 20 Recording

"Brilliantly captures both the musical and the technical content…well judged and beautifully played." John France, Music Web International
“This recording has a uniquely special sound, draping the music in a rich, round, dreamily Romantic tone-colour.” Radio 100.7 Luxembourg. New Classical CD Recommendations.

Back to Bach (PFCD061) £12.50

Tributes and Transcriptions performed by Kenneth Hamilton, piano

"Excellent…a show of imperious pianism, authoritative but persuasive“ (5/5 Stars) Dr Chang Tou Liang, Singapore Straits Times
"Kenneth Hamilton has studied his sources in minute detail and brings new insights to Liszt’s Fantasia on Bach, his "Weinen, Klagen" Variations, and dispatches Busoni’s great arrangement of the violin Chaconne with magnificent aplomb" Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer

Kenneth Hamilton plays Ronald Stevenson Vol. 1 (PFCD050) £12.50

Kenneth Hamilton - piano
CD of the Week, Klassik Heute (Germany)

"This is a lovely recital... Kenneth Hamilton is completely in tune with Ronald Stevenson's style, and fully equal to the bravura demands of the music." Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
"Splendid…the compositional and virtuoso aspects of the disk are frankly stunning." Geoffrey Atkinson, British Music Journal

Kenneth Hamilton Gallery

Photos by Andrew Bi (Singapore) - click to enlarge

Kenneth Hamilton pianist Kenneth Hamilton pianist Kenneth Hamilton pianist Kenneth Hamilton pianist Kenneth Hamilton pianist