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Klassiek - Verschenen op 26 oktober 2018 | Piano Classics

Booklet Onderscheidingen Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 30 augustus 2019 | Piano Classics

Booklet
A major addition to the library of Alkan on record from a leading young exponent of lesser-known Romantic piano repertoire. First published in 1847, these preludes form a highly original set of pieces, effectively Alkan’s first foray into the genre of cyclic shorter pieces. The set stands aside from so many in its consistently reflective and introspective approach to a genre recently redefined by Chopin. The key sequence guides us through all the major and minor keys, but instead of settling for all 24 major and minor tonalities, Alkan comes full circle for a twenty-fifth and final C major prelude to complete the set. Alkan had in mind that the Preludes might equally effectively be played on piano or organ – that they might even serve liturgical functions as chorale preludes or instrumental antiphons. However, they have always been regarded as piano music first and foremost, albeit possessed of an often tranquil and reflective temperament, anticipating the mystical works of Liszt such as the Harmonies poétiques et réligieuses (it will be remembered that Liszt regarded Alkan alone as a serious rival to his pianistic prowess). Mark Viner has made his name playing Alkan’s music, and he is widely regarded as among the composer’s most persuasive advocates on record. ‘His playing is never showy,’ remarked the Guardian when reviewing a previous Piano Classics album of the Op.35 Etudes: ‘he emphasises that these are profound explorations of early romantic sensibility first and extreme technical challenges second, and that is a totally convincing way of dealing with some of the most remarkable piano music of its time.’ Viner was praised by The Sunday Times for ‘turning Alkan’s forbidding torrents of notes into real music’. This much-anticipated new album is enhanced by Viner’s own, authoritative booklet essay giving full context both to the Preludes and their reception. The second instalment of a unique and colossal project: the recording of the complete piano works by Alkan by British pianist Mark Viner! © Piano Classics
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 29 januari 2021 | Piano Classics

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The latest volume in a revelatory Alkan series from an English pianist with a string of critically acclaimed albums of rare repertoire from the Golden Age of the piano virtuoso to his credit. Perhaps the most enigmatic figure in the history of music as a whole, let alone the 19th century, Charles-Valentin Alkan remains one of the most intriguing and alluring names among the pantheon of pianist-composers. According to Franz Liszt, Alkan possessed the finest technique he had ever seen yet preferred the life of a recluse. The outstanding masterpiece of the album is the Symphonie for solo piano which Alkan drew from his set of 12 Studies, Op. 39. It opens with an Allegro which is one of the composer’s most darkly impassioned conceptions, in which declamatory rhetoric, passionate outbursts and towering climaxes are all bound by a tightly organised structure. The piano writing is distinctly orchestral in nature, hence the ‘symphonic’ designation, demanding that the intrepid soloist make his or her way through towering conglomerations of sometimes ten note chords, thick, chordal tremoli and volleys of double octaves: only fully accredited virtuosi need apply! The Symphonie is placed on this album as the climax to a sequence of grand marches conceived on a similarly grand scale. They include the Three Cavalry Marches, Op. 39, which find Alkan at his most concise, in the Berliozian No. 1, his most eccentric (the trio of No. 2) and whimsical (No. 3). Like them, the Marche funèbre, Op. 26 bears witness to Alkan’s ability to channel a latent and, at times, menacing power through material of the slightest substance. The following Marche triomphale, Op. 27 is a massive, swaggering affair, in contrast to the ruminative melancholy of the opening paraphrase Op. 45 on a poem by Legouvé set in a cemetery and cast in Alkan’s most elegiac vein. A profound sadness also inflects the opening section of the composer’s ingenious instrumental setting of Psalm 137, ‘By the waters of Babylon’. The booklet contains an excellent essay on Alkan and his works by the artist himself. © Piano Classics
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 1 november 2017 | Piano Classics

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Klassiek - Verschenen op 28 februari 2020 | Piano Classics

For Mark Viner, Alkan himself is the most enigmatic figure in the history of music – but also one of the most intriguing and alluring names among the pantheon of pianist-composers. He feels that the Op.33 Sonata is, quite simply, the greatest French piano sonata of all, and plays it with commensurate passion and conviction. Composed in the late 1840s and published in 1848, the Sonata outlines four decades in the life of man, from the twenties to the fifties, within a conventional, albeit highly expanded and imaginatively embellished four-movement structure. However, Alkan stressed that his intention was not to compose imitative or literal tone-painting: ‘the first piece is a Scherzo; the second an Allegro; the third and fourth an Andante and a Largo; but each one of them corresponds, in my mind, to a given moment of existence, to a particular disposition of thought’. The earlier Souvenirs – Trois Morceaux dans le genre pathétique, Op.15 (1837) is Alkan’s first foray into large-scale structures with the third piece’s recapitulation of ideas from the previous two, constituting a single unity through their half an hour’s duration... © Piano Classics
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 31 mei 2019 | Piano Classics

Booklet
Mark Viner’s Piano Classics albums of romantic repertoire off the beaten track have attracted plenty of critical attention for their ‘sympathy and style’ as Pianist magazine summarised his recent selection of miniatures by Cécile Chaminade: ‘His appreciation and enjoyment of these vignettes is palpable, relishing their wit, whimsy, charm and endearing pictorial qualities.’ His latest release returns to the music of Sigismond Thalberg (1812-1871), a contemporary and serious rival of Franz Liszt. A previous Piano Classics album compiling five of Thalberg’s operatic fantasies drew a glowing encomium from Gramophone for Viner’s ‘masterly’ playing: ‘His rubato is subtly, perfectly judged; the piano sings; and from Viner’s fingers the iridescent showers of notes cascade with scintillating exuberance.’ His touch and formidable technique are here put at the service of six more fantasies based on themes from operas by Auber, Bellini, Berlioz, Halévy, Mercadante and Meyerbeer. Thalberg’s fantasia on themes from Les Huguenots appeared just weeks after the opera’s premiere, yet it deftly plays with many of the principal melodies in this epic tragedy in a synthesis all the more remarkable for being written at the age of 24. Belonging to his pedagogical collection of Op.70 pieces, the transcriptions from Bellini’s Norma and Mercadante’s Il giuramento are more faithful. The fantasia on themes from Auber’s La Muette di Portici is more of a virtuoso tour de force from which Thalberg took particular pride, choosing it for his performance to Queen Victoria in June 1844. The Berlioz fantasy is based on the finale of the Grand Grande Symphonie funèbre et triomphale: it provides a suitably barnstorming conclusion to a true celebration of virtuoso pianism. © Piano Classics
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Klassiek - Verschenen op 23 oktober 2015 | Piano Classics

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Accordeon - Verschenen op 21 oktober 2016 | Piano Classics

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