Author Topic: Charles Valentin Alkan  (Read 15515 times)

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Offline alkan

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Charles Valentin Alkan
« on: May 16, 2007, 03:37:24 AM »
I will start a thread on behalf of my beloved namesake.

Anyone else out there who is attuned to this incredible composer?      What appeals to me is not just the unbelievable difficulty and virtuosity of the writing, but the incredible originality and spirituality of the music.     It easily merits its place alongside that of his contempories Chopin and Liszt

My favourite recordings are

1. Studies in the minor keys, Op 39, by Jack Gibbons     (the best version ever recorded)
2. The Grande Sonate for Cello and Piano,  by Husseyn Sermet and Christoph Heynkel  (the central adagio is the most beautiful and emotional pieces of all music)
3.  The organ studies, by Kevin Bowyer   (a recent discovery and an absolute revelation).

I urge everyone who likes piano music to discover the wonderful and often bizzarre world of Alkan

The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.
Harlan Ellison (1934 - )

Offline Brewski

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2007, 04:34:53 AM »
3.  The organ studies, by Kevin Bowyer   (a recent discovery and an absolute revelation).

I do like Alkan, although my exposure is minimal to date.  As a huge fan of Marc-AndrĂ© Hamelin, I bought his Alkan recordings and was properly astounded by what I was hearing.  But I can't say I "know" these works well yet. 

PS, I just heard a great recital by Kevin Bowyer here a few months ago, of 20th-century works (no Alkan, alas).  He was one of the best organists I've ever heard. 

--Bruce
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Offline orbital

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2007, 04:51:26 AM »
I like Alkan quite a bit as well. The Op39 etudes being at the top of the heap of course (I have not heard Gibbons, my favorite is Smith. I think he undferstands Alkan much more than other performers attempting to play his music).
Esquissez, preludes, the sonatine, andante romantique and especially the grand sonata are other pieces I enjoy a lot.

I have not heard his chamber, but I guess I should soon

Offline alkan

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2007, 05:01:40 AM »
My first exposure to Alkan was via the Ronald Smith set of Op 39, and it is a very fine, pioneering set.      But when I heard the Gibbons set I was astounded.      His virtuosity and control at high-speed are unbelievable and many passages are quite hair-raising.    And it's not pure showmanship ..... his readings of the slower pieces are very poetic and satisfying.     Much as I like and respect Smith, for me Gibbons is clearly superior.

I have one disc of Hamelin, the concerto for piano.      It too is pretty good, but Gibbons is still supreme in this work.    Majestic, powerful and exciting.

Kevin Bowyer is indeed a magnificent organist.      I just got his Alkan disc on Tocatta Classics.     I love it and even though I know most of Alkan's piano music, I am amazed by some of these organ studies.      Even better, it is Vol 1 of a projected 3 disc series.
I can't wait for the others.        There is also an earlier (1992) CD that he recorded on Nimbus.   I have to get that now ....
The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.
Harlan Ellison (1934 - )

dtwilbanks

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2007, 05:05:03 AM »
I just purchased Alkan's opus 31 preludes but have not given them a listen yet. They are performed by Laurent Martin.

Offline orbital

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2007, 05:24:03 AM »

I have one disc of Hamelin, the concerto for piano.      It too is pretty good, but Gibbons is still supreme in this work.    Majestic, powerful and exciting.

Have you heard this one?


Latimer (who, I understand, is originally a jazz pianist) plays the concerto live here, and the whole experience is very different from the studio sessions.

With Alkan, since there are so few pianists play his music, the ones that do tend to be good in general. I can't imagine somebody learning these works (although they know it's not going to sell well) without loving them. So perhaps that's why I have not heard a really bad performance. And from those I've heard Hamelin seems to be the furthest from what I envision Alkan to be.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2007, 05:24:49 AM »
For those interested, here's a 'short' THREAD on Alkan in the old forum (believe there might have been another) - plenty of recommendations made there -  :D

Offline alkan

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2007, 07:01:52 AM »
Thanks Orbitel.      I will have a closer look at the Mark Latimer disc .... looks intriguing.

I believe that Jack Gibbons did perform ALL of Op 39 at a concert in London some time ago.     Quite a staggering feat !!    But the CD set are recorded in the studio, although they sound pretty spontaneous to me.   Certainly some hair-raising moments for whether he will manage to keep control at the speed he goes at  (especially the first study .....comme le vent !).

Laurent Martin is another fine interpreter.    I have his set of the studies in the major keys and it is excellent.    Also, the railroad  (le chemin de fer).

I'll check the old thread as well ....thanks for the tip.
The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.
Harlan Ellison (1934 - )

dtwilbanks

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2007, 10:04:27 AM »
I just purchased Alkan's opus 31 preludes but have not given them a listen yet. They are performed by Laurent Martin.

I have now listened to this disc. Count me in as an Alkan fan.  :)

George

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2007, 10:15:02 AM »
I like Alkan quite a bit as well. The Op39 etudes being at the top of the heap of course (I have not heard Gibbons, my favorite is Smith. I think he undferstands Alkan much more than other performers attempting to play his music).
Esquissez, preludes, the sonatine, andante romantique and especially the grand sonata are other pieces I enjoy a lot.

I have not heard his chamber, but I guess I should soon

Is it that Smith the EMI two-fer? I gotta get that one.   

dtwilbanks

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2007, 10:17:37 AM »
Is it that Smith the EMI two-fer? I gotta get that one.   

I think me too, if I ever see one.

Offline orbital

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2007, 10:23:54 AM »
Is it that Smith the EMI two-fer? I gotta get that one.   
Yep. There are 2 volumes which collectively make up the Op39 set, But one CD has the Symphony and the concerto on it if that's what you are interested in. And luckily that is the CD that is easily available. The other CD which completes the op 39 set might need some second hand shopping :)

George

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2007, 10:25:05 AM »

Offline BachQ

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2007, 10:25:46 AM »
For those interested, here's a 'short' THREAD on Alkan in the old forum (believe there might have been another) - plenty of recommendations made there -  :D

Actually, the "other" thread relates back to your Alkan thread, so, at bottom, there's only one . . . . . .

dtwilbanks

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2007, 10:36:39 AM »


George

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« Last Edit: May 16, 2007, 10:43:37 AM by George »

Offline orbital

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2007, 10:45:07 AM »
Looks like the same one, without remastering.

That greedy bastard!  >:(
I put the wrong link before, I edited it.

You need both these 2CD sets for the complete op 39 unfortunately. But the more popular portions of the set is in the cheap one :)

The other CD has the first 4 etudes plus a wonderful Grand sonata and other pieces.

George

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2007, 10:48:32 AM »
I put the wrong link before, I edited it.

You need both these 2CD sets for the complete op 39 unfortunately.

Once again proving that record labels know MUCH more about making money than they do about music.  ::)

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Charles Valentin Alkan
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2007, 07:56:36 PM »


Has anyone listened to this one yet? Hamelin's rendition of the last movement of the concerto as can be sampled at the Hyperion website sure is impressive and I'd say improved in many ways compared to his previous recorded interpretation.