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Friday, June 26, 2020

Charles-Valentin Alkan - Chanson de la folle au bord de la mer (Vincenzo Maltempo)


Composer: Charles-Valentin Alkan
  1. Trois petites fantaisies, Op. 41: No. 1, Assez gravement
  2. Trois petites fantaisies, Op. 41: No. 2, Andantino
  3. Trois petites fantaisies, Op. 41: No. 3, Presto
  4. Minuetto alla tedesca, Op. 46
  5. Marche funèbre, Op. 26
  6. Marche triomphale, Op. 27
  7. Petits préludes sur les 8 gammes du plain-chant: No. 6, Poco lento
  8. Capriccio alla soldatesca, Op. 50
  9. Le tambour bat aux champs. Op. 50bis
  10. 25 Preludes, Op. 31: No. 8, La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer
  11. Esquisses, Op. 63: No. 49, Laus deo

Vincenzo Maltempo, piano
Date: 2015
Label: Piano Classics



Vol 4 of Vincenzo Maltempo’s Alkan consists of works which he considers better suited to his 1899 Erard instrument than to a modern piano. And in this he adds a special dimension of timbre and colour to music’s ultimate bogeyman, previously celebrated on record by Ronald Smith and most notably by Marc-André Hamelin, together with invaluable encounters by Olli Mustonen and Steven Osborne.

Maltempo is once again every inch the virtuoso, brimming over with zest even when Alkan’s demands are sufficiently ferocious to cause him momentary strain in the monstrous Marche triomphale (only Hamelin could throw off its massive octave challenge with sufficient nonchalance and aplomb). Elsewhere there is much to wonder at in Maltempo’s playing of the Trois petites fantaisies (with typical Alkan perversity more outsize than petite): crisp and assertive in No 1, furiously paced in the frantically skipping No 2 and madcap Tom-and-Jerry chase of No 3. And whether in the Capriccio alla soldatesca, where the soldiers tramp and trumpet their way into battle, in the baleful Chanson de la folle au bord de la mer or in Alkan’s periodic retreats into a reclusive, hymnal piety, Maltempo is brilliantly attuned to an outsider, bleak and uncompromising beneath his surface extravagance. Piano Classics’ sound is excellent and Maltempo proves himself a true champion of the near impossible.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

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Charles-Valentin Alkan (30 November 1813 – 29 March 1888) was a French composer and pianist. At the height of his fame in the 1830s and 1840s he was, alongside his friends and colleagues Chopin and Liszt, among the leading pianists in Paris, where he spent virtually his entire life. His music requires extreme technical virtuosity, reflecting his own abilities. Busoni ranked Alkan with Liszt, Chopin, Schumann and Brahms as one of the five greatest composers for the piano since Beethoven. For much of the 20th century, Alkan's work remained in obscurity, but from the 1960s onwards it was steadily revived.


Vincenzo Maltempo (born July 2, 1985 in Benevento) is an Italian pianist. He studied at the S. Cecilia Conservatory in Rome with Salvatore Orlando, a disciple of Sergio Fiorentino, and also studied with Riccardo Risaliti in Imola. In 2006 he won the XXIII Competition "Premio Venezia" and began a successfull international career playing in theaters and concert halls in Italy, Austria, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Mexico, USA and Japan. His repertoire goes from the baroque to modern music, with a particular interest in romantic music and in the less-performed piano repertoire.


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