Notes and Editorial Reviews
Reclusive and eccentric, the French pianist– composer Charles-Valentin Alkan was also undoubtedly one of the greatest pianists who ever lived, and a composer who, like his friend and fellow virtuoso Liszt, pushed the boundaries of what his instrument, and human pianism, could achieve. Again like Liszt, he composed music that was not merely flashy and difficult to play – it tapped a deep comprehension of music history and theory, a flair for the lyrical and the dramatic and of course a vast imagination. Tackling these formidable pieces are eight pianists and one organist, along with the Trio Alkan piano trio and the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto under Roberto Fores-Veses, on recordings dating from 1989–2017. Alkan’s great cycles for the piano — the Études in all the minor keys, in all the major keys, the Preludes in every key – feature alongside other large-scale works like the Grandes Études for hands separate and together and the Nocturnes, as well as characterful miniatures like the Chants and Les Mois. Organist Kevin Bowyer demonstrates that Alkan was as much an organ prodigy as anything else, with performances of the Prieres and Little Plainchant Preludes, as well as music for Alkan’s beloved pedal-piano transcribed for the organ.