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
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
Laurent Martin (Piano)
Written: 1861; France
Date of Recording: 12/1990
Venue: Tonstudio Van Geest, Heidelberg, Germany
Length: 74 Minutes 29 Secs.
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