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CHARLES-VALENTIN ALKAN  

(1813 - 1888)

Alkan, born Morhange in Paris in 1813, was among the most gifted piano virtuosi of his time. Much of his life, in particular from 1853 onwards, was spent in eccentric isolation. His remarkable abilities as a pianist, in later years only intermittently displayed, were coupled with an equally remarkable body of keyboard compositions, neglected until recent years. In addition to his musical interests, he maintained his classical and biblical studies, the latter reflecting the Jewish faith into which he had been born and to which he remained loyal throughout his life.

Piano Music

While Alkan’s piano music includes the operatic fantasias and transcriptions fashionable in his time, his more remarkable works must be his virtuosic études, notably the set in all minor keys, Op. 39, containing ‘Scherzo diabolico’, ‘Symphonie’, ‘Concerto’, ‘Ouverture’ and final ‘Le Festin d’Esope’ Variations. The four-movement ‘Symphonie’ includes a sober Marche funèbre. There are preludes in all keys, major and minor, many with idiosyncratic titles; impromptus; études in all major keys; and a set of 48 Esquisses, the last as original as anything else he wrote. Much of Alkan’s piano music makes fierce technical demands on any performer, and the larger works are massive in scale and conception.

Orchestral Music

Alkan’s compositions are chiefly for piano. A symphony is lost, while a work for wind band remains unpublished. Three piano chamber concertos survive, written in the early 1830s, the third reconstructed from a later adaptation. And a piano concerto has been produced from Nos. 8–10 of the Études, Op 39; these demanding pieces conceived as a ‘concerto’ by Alkan for piano alone were subsequently orchestrated by the conductor Karl Klindworth (to be first performed in 1902).

Chamber Music

Alkan’s contribution to chamber music is found in Grand Duo Concertant for violin and piano, Sonate de concert for cello and piano, and a piano trio.

Box Set Release Catalogue Number
Art and Music: Masters of the Modern Age Vol 1 Naxos 8.503269

Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ALKAN, V.: Grand duo concertant, Op. 21 / Sonate de concert, Op. 47 / Piano Trio, Op. 30 (Kang, Chiffoleau, Gardon) Timpani
1C1139
Chamber Music
ALKAN: 12 Etudes, Op. 35 / Le Festin d'Esope / Scherzo Diabolico Naxos
8.555495
Instrumental
ALKAN: 12 Etudes, Op. 35 / Le festin d'Esope / Scherzo diabolico Marco Polo
8.223351
Instrumental
ALKAN: Chamber Music Marco Polo
8.223383
Chamber Music
ALKAN: Esquisses, Op. 63 Marco Polo
8.223352
Instrumental
ALKAN: Esquisses, Op. 63 Naxos
8.555496
Instrumental
ALKAN: Etudes, Opp. 12 and 76 Marco Polo
8.223500
Instrumental
ALKAN: Grand Duo Concertant / Sonate de Concert / Piano Trio Naxos
8.555352
Chamber Music
ALKAN: Piano Concerto, Op. 39 / Concerto da Camera, Nos. 1-3 Naxos
8.553702
Concertos, Orchestral
ALKAN: Piano Music Marco Polo
8.223657
Instrumental
ALKAN: Preludes, Op. 31 Marco Polo
8.223284
Instrumental
ALKAN: Railway (The) / Preludes / Etudes / Esquisses Naxos
8.553434
Instrumental
ALKAN: Symphonie / Ouverture / Etudes, Op. 39 Marco Polo
8.223285
Instrumental
Around The World In 80 Minutes Marco Polo
8.223003
Instrumental
Art and Music: Degas - Music of His Time Naxos
8.558144
Instrumental
BUCHNER, G.: Lenz Naxos Hoerbucher
NHB10042
Classic Fiction
DEVIL'S MUSIC (The) Naxos
8.578085-86
Instrumental
KAFKA, F. / HOFFMANN, E.T.A / HAUFF, W. / HAGENBECK, C.: Affe als Mensch (Der) - Erzahlungen Naxos Hoerbucher
NHB20132
Instrumental
Piano Recital: Landrum, Michael - FIELD, J. / CHOPIN, F. / RESPIGHI, O. / SCRIABIN, A. / FAURE, G. / FRANCAIX, J. (Nocturnes) Dorian Sono Luminus
DSL-92158
Instrumental
SAYGUN, A.A.: Piano Concerto No. 1 / 12 Preludes / FRANCAIX, J.: Piano Sonata / ALKAN, C.V.: Le chemin de fer (Biret Archive Edition, Vol. 11) Idil Biret Archive
8.571288
Instrumental




 
 
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