Any new recording of Charles-Valentin Alkan is an event, which hopefully widens the public appreciation of this still unknown genius of the French Romantic period. After unsuccessful efforts at a brilliant concert career, Alkan went into reclusion, concentrating on teaching and composing his totally unique oeuvre, mainly written for solo piano. One of the greatest virtuosos of his time (even Liszt was nervous in his presence) he wrote piano music of the most colossal proportions, scope and difficulty. This new recording by the young and extraordinarily gifted young Italian, Vincenzo Maltempo, brings together two of Alkan's masterworks: the 'Grande Sonata' “Les Quatre Ages” (in which Alkan musically describes the several stages of Man’s Life, from exuberant youth to tragic old age), and the 'Symphonie pour piano solo', a dramatic four movement work in Classical/Romantic style. As an encore we have the fiendishly difficult 'Etude for two hands unisono', a pianistic tour de force.
24th May 2012
“Maltempo does not attempt to disguise the more derivative passages...he plays them all with such conviction and poise that the music seems totally of a piece. There's no flinching from the most extreme technical demands...and the sheer strangeness and power of the invention is given free rein. Exhilarating, and a real revelation.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.