The Concerto da camera in A minor, Op 10 No 1, premiered by Alkan in Paris in 1832, has never been recorded before, either as a piano solo, or (as here) in its original form. It is doubtful whether it’s been played more than a handful of times since its composition; the existence of a full set of parts was only discovered in the 1980s. This is a more ambitious ‘concertino’ than its successor, again in one movement though in three distinct sections. It is scored for strings, double woodwind (with two extra bassoons), four horns, two trumpets, three trombones and timpani. Throughout, one is reminded of other composers but never convinced. Here is a Mendelssohnian theme, there a Chopinesque modulation, here some awkward Weber-like passagework. But no, it is a different, independent thinker throughout, too masculine for Chopin, too sharp-cornered for Mendelssohn. Any pianist tackling this must have nimble fingers and (in all three sections) good octaves and sparkling repeated notes. The work is dedicated to Alkan’s teacher Joseph Zimmerman (1785–1853), who himself was a pupil of Cherubini.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 1994