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Hyperion Records

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An Allegory of Prudence by Titian (c1488-1576)
Reproduced by permission of The Trustees, The National Gallery, London
Track(s) taken from CDA66794
Recording details: November 1994
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner & Mike Dutton
Release date: June 1995
Total duration: 17 minutes 42 seconds

'Another Hyperion/Hamelin must' (Gramophone)

'The virtuosity is mind-boggling … the stupendous Hamelin truly gets under the skin of this ambitious, philosophical music and the mountain ranges of technical ability that it demands. The finest Alkan pianist of his generation' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Breathtaking' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'The whole disc is an outstanding achievement—There's no better introduction in the current catalogue to this intriguing, paradoxical composer' (The Independent)

'Truly extraordinary…quite simply, self-recommending' (International Record Review)

'One of the phenomenal pianists of the century … superhuman … staggering virtuosity' (American Record Guide)

'Breathtaking virtuosity, outshining all rivals' (The Guardian)

'Phenomenal. Breathtaking. Staggering … the quality of playing throughout is on that mouth-gaping, heart-pounding level where amazement and high respect result from an overwhelming experience … that someone could play this way is imaginable. That someone is actually playing this way is unbelievable. I heard this CD's Sonatina and Aesop for the first time in my car. I nearly drove off the road—several times … easily one of the best piano recordings ever made' (Fanfare, USA)

'Hamelin’s breathtakingly confident accounts of this under-rated music are as compulsive as they are revelatory' (Amazon.co.uk)

'Without a shadow of a doubt the finest Alkan recording ever made' (Soundscapes, Australia)

'Alkan est servi par un pianiste à la technique stupéfiante … sa virtuosité hors du commun, symbolisée par une fluidité et un contrôle de la dynamique tout simplement sidérants' (Répertoire, France)

'Un virtuoso sbalorditivo … destinato a fare la gioia di chi cerca il virtuosismo puro (qui elevato a livelli stratosferici) e l'originalità del programma' (Musica, Italy)

Sonatine, Op 61
composer
1862

Allegro vivace  [5'06]
Allegramente  [4'07]
Scherzo-Minuet  [3'33]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonatine, Op 61, was written fourteen years after the Grande Sonate and forms a striking contrast to it. Concise and concentrated in the extreme, refined in its style of writing, and of exceptional technical difficulty, it is a gem of equilibrium and perhaps presents Alkan at his most accessible. Its first movement, although swept along and interrupted by violent angry outbursts, maintains a profound coherence, reinforced by the taut conjoining of its two themes. The Allegramente which follows, in F major, belongs within the best tradition of Alkan’s falsely naive works. It is immediately reminiscent of the slow movement from Maurice Ravel’s Sonatine; Ravel was, moreover, familiar with the music of this, the composer of Le festin d’Esope. The Scherzo-Minuet, in D minor, is one of those perpetual motion pieces of which the composer was so fond; he interrupts its driving rhythm with a trio which eases the pace of the movement but is unsettled by various rhythmic and harmonic devices. The finale, Tempo giusto, opens with startling fifths which conjure up the empty chords of a cello or the toll of bells, in the style of Mussorgsky in his Pictures at an Exhibition; the sections which follow vary greatly without ever altering the movement’s deep cohesion. A dry fortissimo chord brings the four movements to a close.

from notes by François Luguenot © 1995
English: Ansy Boothroyd

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