Music of the reluctant French virtuoso and pioneering genius, Charles-Valentin Alkan [1813-1888], composed originally for pedal piano, plays brilliantly on the pipe organ.
Considered by many to be the virtuosic equal of Franz Liszt, and also both friend and neighbor to Frederic Chopin, Alkan was a curious, reclusive figure on the mid-century Parisian scene. His numerous works, virtually all for piano, abound with digital challenges and provocative creative twists.
Alkan wrote both a four-movement symphony and a massive three-movement concerto, both for solo piano without orchestra. Later, another friend, Cesar Franck, dedicated his own pioneering solo organ symphony…the Grande Piece Symphonique…to Alkan. Franck also published organ editions of the pieces to be heard in the course of this program, which Alkan created for that ‘dead-end’ Romantic-era instrument, the pedal piano, a standard piano with an additional organ-like clavier for the feet. Alkan was particularly fascinated by this device, and even left money in his will to fund a pedal piano course at the Paris Conservatory.
Our broadcast includes a complete performance of Alkan’s Thirteen Prayers, Opus 64, and selections from Eleven Grande Preludes, Opus 66 and the Little Preludes in the Eight Plainchant Modes .