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Alkan: Esquisses Op 63 / Laurent Martin

Release Date: 05/21/2002 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8555496   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you'd like to access the full scope of Alkan's quirky style in bite-sized proportions rather than piling into the Concerto for Solo Piano, Les Quartre Ages, and other large-scale concoctions, here's a disc for you. Esquisses (Sketches) contains 49 piano miniatures, each lasting from 43 seconds to a little more than four minutes. Alkan apparently composed these over a 15-year span. He eventually partitioned the collection into four volumes, arranged according to key sequence. It's almost too easy to describe the music as slightly off-center replicas of Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, and Weber, with touches of the French clavicenists, but that's essentially what you hear. He even foreshadows Paul McCartney's "Michelle" by a century in Read more the quasi-modal "Barcollete!"

Laurent Martin commands Alkan's idiom well, and his fingers toss off the composer's fastest flurries of notes (e.g. the Fantasie, No. 16) with next to no effort. However, Martin's artistry is severely compromised by strident, tinny sonics. I could somewhat tame the jangly quality of loud, pedaled repeated chords by futzing with my receiver's parametric equalizer, but that's akin to treating a tummy ache with a band-aid. In fairness, Naxos has significantly improved its techniques for recording piano music since this 1992 release, originally available on Marco Polo and now reissued at budget price.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Esquisses (48) for Piano, Op. 63 by Charles Valentin Alkan
Performer:  Laurent Martin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1990 
Venue:  Tonstudio Van Geest, Heidelberg, Germany 
Length: 74 Minutes 29 Secs. 

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