Hyperion Records

Étude No 4 in C minor 'Étude à mouvement perpétuellement semblable, after Alkan'
composer
2005; a combination of Alkan's Étude en mouvement semblable et perpétuel, Op 76 No 3 and the finale of the Symphony for solo piano, Op 39 No 7, incorporating elements the Le festin d'Ésope, Op 39 No 12; published by C. F. Peters Corp., New York

Recordings
'Hamelin: Études' (CDA67789)
Hamelin: Études
Details
Track 4 on CDA67789 [3'59]

Étude No 4 in C minor 'Étude à mouvement perpétuellement semblable, after Alkan'
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No 4, Étude à mouvement perpétuellement semblable (after Alkan), is a combination of two études by Charles-Valentin Alkan, namely the Étude en mouvement semblable et perpétuel, Op 76 No 3 and the finale of the Symphonie for solo piano, Op 39 No 7. The idea of combining these two works contrapuntally was not mine—it must be credited to my friend the composer Alistair Hinton, a towering musical intellect to whom concepts of this kind occur naturally and easily.

I didn’t compose this étude without some hesitation, since I’ve always believed that basing a work on material that is little known to the general public is a useless enterprise. But in this case, I found Alistair’s idea so irresistible that I had to make an exception, so that ultimately work on this étude concerned carrying a germinal idea to a satisfying conclusion, with thoughts of actual performance being secondary. But I hope that the end result can still be appreciated even by those who have not been exposed to Alkan’s music in general, and to these two works in particular.

Those who are familiar with the two source works will realize that this étude is a very free exploitation of Alkan’s original material. As with the Triple Étude, a literal superimposition of both pieces would have been impossible and pointless. I have chosen instead to fashion a work that is somewhat different from either of the two sources while still retaining large chunks of the original music; many portions of the originals are not utilized. Alkan connoisseurs will also note that the theme of his remarkable set of variations Le festin d’Ésope makes a few uninvited appearances. The title is a slightly self-deprecating take on Alkan’s own; ‘perpétuellement semblable’ implies something like ‘always the same old thing’.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2010

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