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Alkan: Concerto for Solo Piano, Op 39 / Troisième recueil de chants Import
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For those unfamiliar with Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano, Ronald Smith notes that "it has been described as the nineteenth century's answer to Bach's Italian Concerto. In both works a single player is invited to imitate the impression of solo and massed forces. But the Alkan is on a colossal scale; an isolated masterpiece which cannot be sensibly compared with any other work..." Hamelin has arguably catapulted this work into the spotlight, though I must confess that I absolutely loathed his first recording of it (Charles-Valentin Alkan: Concerto For Solo Piano). I was disappointed with Hamelin's lack of legato touch in nearly every measure, the unyielding overly fast tempo, and, to my ears, an absence of emotional involvement.Read more ›
To say the least, it would be somewhat foolish not to believe that no single human being has heard all live and recorded performances of every living and dead pianist. In this case, that doesn't really matter as sensible extrapolation is sufficiently second-best. In front of you is one of the best piano performances of all times and centuries--possibly THE best (only the Almighty himself would know).
The conclusion is actually not that complex to arrive at. Look at the score, listen to comments by such proven experts as Liszt and Busoni, examine the competition, and then turn on the CD player. Some hints: the score's technical difficulty surpasses virtually everything else; Liszt has often been said to probably have been the greatest ever pianist, fearing no one, but of course Alkan; the competition, consisting of no mean pianists, keeps struggling with getting through all the notes (including Smith, Ogdon and Gibbons); hence, what do you hear?
I fully do understand why people throw away words like 'machine' or 'inhuman' trying to understand what they hear. As far as I know, Mr Hamelin is indeed very much a human being (have personally been blessed with several opportunities to verify that statement, first-hand); the difference is just that his pianistic abilities so apparently surpass everyone else's that things get somewhat awkward--or perhaps rather turned entirely upside down. Yes, Hamelin plays as good live as on record.
Is Alkan's Solo Concerto that greatest piano work ever written?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Even within the select category of 5-star issues this deserves a special AAA rating. The music is not well known, and part of the reason for that is that it is so difficult that... Read morePublished 22 months ago by DAVID BRYSON
Alkan is able to transform one single piano and one single keyboard into an orchestra. Because first of all because each hand is able to play as if it had ten fingers, and the two... Read morePublished on July 19, 2013 by Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
This is certainly one of the most difficult piano pieces to interpret. It requires a superb technique and also a deep understanding of the structure of the whole piece to bring it... Read morePublished on March 28, 2013 by Cesqui
Since being blown away by Hamelin's recording of Alkan's Grand Sonata, I have purchased other Hamelin/Alkan CDs, including this one, hoping for a similar experience. Read morePublished on October 8, 2011 by Mad Dog
I suppose Hamelin's disc of Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano may be called the pinnacle of what is surely a series that will remain a legend in the future. Read morePublished on September 21, 2011 by G.D.
I'm one of those guys who has ended up listening to music about fifteen hours a day (I Don't sleep much). This was just music to me but, because of its quality it stood out. Read morePublished on March 21, 2010 by Christopher Ammons
Although I was raised on the romantic 19th-century piano works of Chopin, I was not prepared for Alkan, an essentially unknown composer whose obituary of 1888 in one paper said,... Read morePublished on December 18, 2009 by Dr. Debra Jan Bibel