Notes and Editorial Reviews
Vincenzo Maltempo’s Alkan recordings have been very successful, and this one is no exception. Billed as “a collection of eccentric piano works,” Maltempo isn’t kidding. The weirdness begins with the Trois Petites Fantaisies, Op. 41, which are not especially small (they last more than fifteen minutes collectively), but they are fantastic. The hallucinatory concluding Presto could have been written by Prokofiev in grotesque mode. March music occupies much of the program, from the forbidding Funeral March Op. 26 with its companion Triumphal March Op. 27, to another pair of pieces, the strikingly Mahlerian Capriccio alla soldatesca, Opl 50 and Le tambour bat aux champs, Op. 50bis. Even the Minuetto alla tedesca, Op. 46 sports a grim and
The Song of the Mad Woman on the Sea Shore is one of Alkan’s most popular and haunting creations, and Maltempo clearly relishes its spooky atmosphere. The program ends with the vaguely more “normal” Laus Deo from Esquisses, Op. 63 No. 49. Maltempo plays an 1899 Érard piano, and like many of the better early instruments this one features interesting registral coloration and an action that permits remarkably crisp articulation, qualities that Maltempo exploits to maximum effect. Just how “authentic” this is remains an open question, but it works, and that’s what matters. Fine sonics grace this hour of sometimes strange, but always compelling music.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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