Alkan - Paraphrases, Marches & Symphonie
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special offer ending 26/05/2021
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Label: Piano Classics
Cat No: PCL10207
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 19th February 2021
Marche funebre, op.26
Marches (3) quasi da cavalleria, op.37
Marche triomphale, op.27
Salut, cendre du pauvre!, op.45
Super flumina Babylonis: paraphrase, op.52
Symphony for solo piano, op.39 nos 4-7
ArtistsMark Viner (piano)
Perhaps the most enigmatic figure in the history of music as a whole, let alone the 19th century, Charles-Valentin Alkan remains one of the most intriguing and alluring names among the pantheon of pianist-composers. According to Franz Liszt, Alkan possessed the finest technique he had ever seen yet preferred the life of a recluse.
The outstanding masterpiece of the album is the Symphonie for solo piano which Alkan drew from his set of 12 Studies, op.39. It opens with an Allegro which is one of the composer’s most darkly impassioned conceptions, in which declamatory rhetoric, passionate outbursts and towering climaxes are all bound by a tightly organised structure. The piano writing is distinctly orchestral in nature, hence the ‘symphonic’ designation, demanding that the intrepid soloist make his or her way through towering conglomerations of sometimes ten note chords, thick, chordal tremoli and volleys of double octaves: only fully accredited virtuosi need apply!
The Symphonie is placed on this album as the climax to a sequence of grand marches conceived on a similarly grand scale. They include the Three Cavalry Marches, op.39, which find Alkan at his most concise, in the Berliozian no.1, his most eccentric (the trio of no.2) and whimsical (no.3). Like them, the Marche funèbre, op.26, bears witness to Alkan’s ability to channel a latent and, at times, menacing power through material of the slightest substance. The following Marche triomphale, op.27, is a massive, swaggering affair, in contrast to the ruminative melancholy of the opening Paraphrase, op.45, on a poem by Legouvé set in a cemetery and cast in Alkan’s most elegiac vein. A profound sadness also inflects the opening section of the composer’s ingenious instrumental setting of Psalm 137, ‘By the waters of Babylon’.
Critical praise for Mark Viner’s Alkan recordings on Piano Classics:
‘The finest account ever committed to disc.’ – Gramophone (Etudes, op.35 - PCL10127)
‘Another quite exceptional disc…beautifully recorded.’ – Gramophone (Preludes, op.31 - PCL10189)
‘[Viner] can claim a place at the top table as one of the pre-eminent Alkan players de nos jours… a disc of piano playing out of the top drawer.’ – Gramophone (Grande Sonata, op.33 - PCL10209)
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