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Charles-valentin Alkan: A Portrait

Alkan / Martin
Release Date: 06/08/2010 
Label:  Ligia   Catalog #: 103121   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ALKAN Esquisses: Increpatio; Les Soupirs; Scherzettino; Les Cloches; Les Diablotins; En Songe. Le Chemin de Fer. Troisième Recueil de Chants: Barcarolle. Les Mois: Carnaval; Nuit d’Hiver. Preludes: opp. 31/6–8, 12–14, 16, 20, 23, 25. Etude pour la main gauche. Premier Recueil de Chants: Barcarolle Laurent Martin (pn) Read more LIGIA 0103121-03 (63:55)


There are those who love Alkan and those who hate him; I happen to be one of the former. The antis point to the grotesqueries in his music, the ceaseless flow of ideas, which they claim are formless, the “charnel-house of notes” that stream from the piano when he is played. It surprises me to learn that Alkan had little use for Berlioz, whose equally odd grotesqueries Alkan seems to have inherited, as well as the fact that in many of his late recitals he only played earlier composers, “preaching the gospel of Baroque and Classical music at a time when it had not yet become fashionable.” Certainly there seems to be only the most tenuous connection between the structured balance of the Baroque and Classical eras and Alkan’s own strange world, though on closer inspection all of his works are very closely reasoned, however strange harmonically.


Perhaps because I was weaned on those Raymond Lewenthal recordings for RCA in the early 1960s, I like my Alkan pianists to play with a clipped quality, less pedal and more rhythmic acuity, and this is what Laurent Martin gives us here. Granted, there are many quiet, reflective, more spiritual pieces in this recital than I am used to hearing from Alkan, but for him the spiritual and the grotesque were never that far apart anyway.


Martin is a superb pianist who firmly grasps the basic Alkanian style. Perhaps the fact that he, like Lewenthal, plays them on a Steinway has something to do with this, as that make of piano has a very distinctive sound. Most of Alkan’s music, lacking a score to follow along, often defies description, but in this collection there are works that are so simple as to be purely meditative, such as Prière, the 25th Prelude, played here as the last in Martin’s rearranged sequence. This piece consists entirely of soft, sequential block chords, surely a rarity for a composer whose work was often so busy.


Going through my Alkan collection, I discover that only the Esquisses are duplicated elsewhere, in Steven Osborne’s superb recording of the complete set (Hyperion 67377), and Martin’s touch and style are slightly different, a bit more rhythmic and less flowing. I like both approaches.


In short, I would recommend this disc, along with Osborne’s traversal of the Esquisses, as Alkan for people who usually don’t like Alkan. This isn’t to say that the music represents a dilution of his style—there are, certainly, some quirky pieces here to alert you who the composer is—but by and large, you’ll probably find it not only palatable but, perhaps, a gateway to the more outré Alkan of the Grand Sonata and Symphony for Piano.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Esquisses (48) for Piano, Op. 63: no 10, Increpatio by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 26 Secs. 
2.
Esquisses (48) for Piano, Op. 63: no 11, Les soupirs by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 57 Secs. 
3.
Esquisses, Op. 63: Scherzettino by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 0 Secs. 
4.
Esquisses (48) for Piano, Op. 63: no 4, Les cloches by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 9 Secs. 
5.
Esquisses (48) for Piano, Op. 63: no 45, Les diablotins by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
6.
Esquisses (48) for Piano, Op. 63: no 48, En songe by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 12 Secs. 
7.
Etude for Piano, Op. 27 "Le chemin de fer" by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 4 Minutes 46 Secs. 
8.
Troisième recueil de chants, Op. 65: no 6, Barcarolle by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1870; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
9.
Les Mois, Op. 74: Carnaval by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1840 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 29 Secs. 
10.
Les Mois, Op. 74: Nuit d'Hiver by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1840 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
11.
Préludes, Op. 31: Librement mais sans secousses by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 31 Secs. 
12.
Préludes, Op. 31: Ancienne Mélodie de la Synagogue by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 4 Minutes 12 Secs. 
13.
Préludes, Op. 31: La Chanson de la Folle au Bord de la Mer by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
14.
Préludes, Op. 31: Rapidement by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
15.
Préludes, Op. 31: Le Temps qui n'est plus by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 29 Secs. 
16.
Préludes, Op. 31: J'étais endormie, mais mon coeur veillait... by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
17.
Préludes, Op. 31: Modérément vite et bien caractérisé by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 1 Minutes 36 Secs. 
18.
Préludes, Op. 31: Assez lentement by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
19.
Préludes, Op. 31: Assez vite by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
20.
Préludes, Op. 31: Prière by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 5 Minutes 27 Secs. 
21.
Etude pour la main gauche, Op. 76: Fantaisie in A flat by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838-1840; France 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 8 Minutes 30 Secs. 
22.
Fa, for piano in A minor (Recueil de Chants 2/2), Op. 38b/2 by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Couvent des Minimes de Mirabeau 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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