Alkan was one of the greatest composer-pianists in history, with a voice as original as Chopin or Liszt, and a technique that even Liszt admitted was the greatest he had ever known. His music is of surpassing difficulty, and fell into relative obscurity in an age where published music was frequently aimed at amateurs. Its greatness is undeniable—but it unquestionably requires performances of unceasing brilliance.
Alkan’s Concerto for solo piano is one of the great pianistic high-wire acts—an epic work which demands unprecedented levels of technical ability and physical stamina. It is conceived on a breathtakingly grand scale and is rich with both orchestral sonorities and lyrical pianistic passages. The Troisième recueil de chants is a delightful rarity, rescued here from oblivion by the wonderful Marc-André Hamelin, who with his transcendent technique is simply one of the greatest living performers of this intoxicating music.