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#2190345 - 11/30/13 01:59 AM Presenting: An Alkan E-cital!  
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Orange Soda King Offline
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In honor of Charles-Valentin Alkan's 200th birthday, here is a Piano World of Alkan's music. Hopefully, there will be more to come in the future. Thanks to those who participated! I've credited their names by the titles. There will be hopefully more links added into the shared Box folder, and I'm going to try to recover my recordings, or redo them as soon as I get time (and I'll update the thread, too).

Alkan E-cital!

Hope you enjoy!!

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#2192761 - 12/05/13 03:17 AM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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I am surprised that nobody has replied yet... It is a beautiful recital and we should be grateful to the participants and to OSK who organized it. I am really enjoying it. thumb



[Linked Image]

Music is my best friend.


#2193504 - 12/06/13 02:36 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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Hi, OSW -- thanks for overseeing the recital! Apart from a few of his colossal major works, I really don't know much about his body of composition, and so this recital has been instructive for me. A few comments:

1 I liked what FSO hss done with the introverted, less technically challenging pieces -- she brings a certain dark, disquieting quality which I think is part of Alkan's perspective, and which I think is more apparent in his later works. I'm not sure what the Op 33 50 Ans is all about -- an improvisatory meditation on the mystical side of Alkan?

2 I also liked what wr did with the late Andantinetto -- a quite concise, focused songlike intermezzo, featuring 4 against 3 rhythm (at least to my ears) throughout. It quite clearly forecasts some of the complex polyrhythmic accompaniments that Scriabin in particular was very fond of.

3 I thought Aquanaut presented the Barcarolle effectively, but conceptually I hear the piece in a different way -- more of a Jewish lullaby, or perhaps lament, depending upon the approach. Specifically, I'd like to hear the left hand literally at about half the volume of the right hand, so that the melody, with its unexpected modal progressions, can be more clearly heard.

4 Finally, I listened to two movements that DSF provided of the immense Concerto (actually Etudes 8 and 9 of his gargantuan Op 39). Personally, I find Etude 8 much too long in its musical discourse, although there are some tremendously effective sections. I found the Adagio more musically effective, although genuinely quirky in its travels (what to make of the theme with the "hurdy-gurdy" accompaniment; the menacing march three-quarters in?). I haven't had a chance to listen to the third movement yet, although I'm sure I'll be overwhelmed by the technical capabilities of DSF!


Just to indicate that somebody is indeed listening -- looking forward to more entries as they appear. Thanks to OSK for making this happen!


#2193576 - 12/06/13 05:06 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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Just to be clear; I'm not ignoring it; I'll wait another couple of days or so just to make sure *all* the submissions are in before listening through and commenting on all of them laugh
Xxx


Sometimes, we all just need to be shown a little kindness <3
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#2193623 - 12/06/13 07:26 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Tim Adrianson]  
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson

2 I also liked what wr did with the late Andantinetto -- a quite concise, focused songlike intermezzo, featuring 4 against 3 rhythm (at least to my ears) throughout. It quite clearly forecasts some of the complex polyrhythmic accompaniments that Scriabin in particular was very fond of.



Thanks.

You heard right - it is mostly 4 against three, with the time signature being a very unusual (for the era) 2/4 in the upper stave and 3/4 in the lower. The upper voice is mostly in eighth-notes, giving four to the measure over three quarter notes in the lower part. Other rhythmic complexities are fairly frequent quintuplets (with some ornamentation) in the upper voice, a couple of "notated rubatos", and a hemiola-like shift in the lower part in the middle section. It's a fascinating score. It, and all the rest of the e-cital scores are on IMSL, and I'd encourage those interested to take a look.

Outside of the first movement of the concerto, on which I commented in the other thread on this e-cital, I have only had time to listen to a scattering of the other pieces, and enjoyed them all. I hope to get to the rest, and any additional ones, in the next few days.




#2193915 - 12/07/13 12:25 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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Some additional commentary, after listening to DSF's presentation of the 3rd movement of the Concerto for Solo Piano:

I was first introduced to Alkan's music in the mid '70s, listening to a record of Lewenthal performing several of the "big" works. And I remember being astonished by the virtuosic demands -- but, to the extent of finding the entire effect close to ludicrous, in spite of the respect I had for the effort it took to pull it off. I frankly have the same reaction to a great number of Liszt pieces. As I listened to this Concerto, it struck me that Alkan sounds quite a lot more like Saint-Saens than Liszt -- a virtuosic flash-and-funk dazzle that is however somehow lighter in quality, more French in its predilection. But like Saint-Saens, I also somehow find his music curiously unmemorable -- a certain pedestrian quality to the themes and developmental choices -- that, for me, is less satisfying than Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt. But, having said that, he IMO at least should be in the same league as Saint-Saens -- which still ain't bad, in terms of significance and influence.

DSF, thanks for sharing your prodigious talents to showcase these works! Much appreciated!

#2194076 - 12/07/13 05:12 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Tim Adrianson]  
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
I also somehow find his [Alkan's] music curiously unmemorable.

Agreed.

Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
But, having said that, he IMO at least should be in the same league as Saint-Saens.

Not agreed. Saint-Saens produced some top-quality works, which is not true of Alkan. Not to put down Alkan, whose compositional skill I respect not a little.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2194091 - 12/07/13 05:40 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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A composer does not have to be one of top 10 or even the top 20 all time great composers for the piano to be worthy of strong consideration. My own opinion is that Alkan is somewhere in the 15-30 range which IMO is an incredible achievement.

#2194092 - 12/07/13 05:42 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
A composer does not have to be one of top 10 or even the top 20 all time great composers for the piano to be worthy of strong consideration. My own opinion is that Alkan is somewhere in the 15-30 range.

So what's your list, approximately?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2194135 - 12/07/13 07:12 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Tim Adrianson]  
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
But like Saint-Saens, I also somehow find his music curiously unmemorable -- a certain pedestrian quality to the themes and developmental choices -- that, for me, is less satisfying than Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt.


That is a very interesting comment - it has never occurred to me that a reason for Alkan's relative neglect would be that, since his music has always struck me as quite memorable, going all the way back to my first exposure to it (which was the first Lewenthal LP). And I do rank it, generally, with Liszt, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Chopin.




#2201530 - 12/22/13 06:48 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
But, having said that, he IMO at least should be in the same league as Saint-Saens.

Not agreed. Saint-Saens produced some top-quality works, which is not true of Alkan. Not to put down Alkan, whose compositional skill I respect not a little.


Saint-Saens wrote wonderful music! Top notch.

#2201533 - 12/22/13 07:00 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
Saeint-Saens [sic] wrote wonderful music! Top notch.
________________________
"In opera, there is always too much singing."
So there isn't too much singing in his operas after all? wink


Du holde Kunst...
#2201534 - 12/22/13 07:04 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: currawong]  
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Originally Posted by currawong
Originally Posted by JoelW
Saeint-Saens [sic] wrote wonderful music! Top notch.
________________________
"In opera, there is always too much singing."
So there isn't too much singing in his operas after all? wink


Debussy said it, not me. laugh

#2201616 - 12/22/13 11:57 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist

Not agreed. Saint-Saens produced some top-quality works, which is not true of Alkan.


The second half of this is an opinion that many major figures throughout history did/do not share with you. smile

#2201658 - 12/23/13 12:52 AM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Tim Adrianson]  
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
As I listened to this Concerto, it struck me that Alkan sounds quite a lot more like Saint-Saens than Liszt -- a virtuosic flash-and-funk dazzle that is however somehow lighter in quality, more French in its predilection. But like Saint-Saens, I also somehow find his music curiously unmemorable -- a certain pedestrian quality to the themes and developmental choices -- that, for me, is less satisfying than Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt.

I don't want to detract from this fantastic recital, but I do want to tell Tim that he's not alone: that he's articulated my own feelings about Saint-Saens and Alkan perfectly.

Of course, to Alkan fans: please ignore me. People are much more worth listening to when talking about things they really like.

-Jason



Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2201861 - 12/23/13 12:56 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
As I listened to this Concerto, it struck me that Alkan sounds quite a lot more like Saint-Saens than Liszt -- a virtuosic flash-and-funk dazzle that is however somehow lighter in quality, more French in its predilection. But like Saint-Saens, I also somehow find his music curiously unmemorable -- a certain pedestrian quality to the themes and developmental choices -- that, for me, is less satisfying than Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms, and Liszt.

I don't want to detract from this fantastic recital, but I do want to tell Tim that he's not alone: that he's articulated my own feelings about Saint-Saens and Alkan perfectly.

Of course, to Alkan fans: please ignore me. People are much more worth listening to when talking about things they really like.

-Jason

I think "less satisfying than Chopin, Beethoven..." leaves plenty of room for composers worthy of consideration.

I once posted that I thought Alkan would be somewhere(guessing about what I wrote) between 15 and 30 on my ranking of greatest composers. But I think even a composer in 50th place is worthy of consideration. Thousands of composers have written for the piano.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 12/23/13 03:24 PM.
#2202359 - 12/24/13 01:29 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think Alkan would be somewhere(guessing about what I wrote) between 15 and 30 on my ranking of greatest composers.

I don't understand how that could be possible. Can you give your approximate list?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2203215 - 12/26/13 06:26 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think "less satisfying than Chopin, Beethoven..." leaves plenty of room for composers worthy of consideration.

I once posted that I thought Alkan would be somewhere(guessing about what I wrote) between 15 and 30 on my ranking of greatest composers. But I think even a composer in 50th place is worthy of consideration. Thousands of composers have written for the piano.


I think of it not in terms of ranking, but in terms of groups, or clusters. For me there are two main groups (this is just off the top of my head):

I: scarlatti, bach, haydn, mozart, beethoven, schubert, schumann, brahms, chopin, liszt, tchaikovsky, mussorgsky, dvorak, janacek, reger, wagner, mahler, strauss, bruckner, elgar, britten, faure, franck, poulenc, ravel, debussy, greig, sibelius, skriabin, medtner, rachmaninoff, schoenberg, webern, berg, mompou, albeniz, stravinsky, nielson, prokofiev, shostakovitch, hindemidth, bartok, copland, ives, barber, ligeti, messiaen, nancarrow, carter, adams, part

II: handel, vivaldi, alkan, satie, saint-saens, reich

Composers in group I almost always do it for me; composers in group II rarely.

(I'm sure these lists can be expanded. But just looking at them, and seeing e.g. no women and few living people, I see I'm still quite narrow-minded.)

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2203218 - 12/26/13 06:31 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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Ligeti moves you more than S-S? Uhhh...

#2203221 - 12/26/13 06:41 PM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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I should clarify that when I said I would rate Alkan somewhere 15-30 I was talking about a composer's piano compositions only.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 12/26/13 06:42 PM.
#2203386 - 12/27/13 12:39 AM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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I just listened through the entire first movement of the Concerto and it was incredible playing. Unbelievable. Inspiring - I really want to learn it one day now. D.S.F., I can't wait to finish the rest of the concerto (as well as listen to the other contributions!).

Thanks for a great evening!


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#2212682 - 01/11/14 09:21 AM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: wr]  
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Whatever his weaknesses--and I think I would often agree with "a certain pedestrian quality to the themes and developmental choices "--one feature I always found outstanding in Alkan is his ability to consistently produce memorable themes.


#2216498 - 01/18/14 03:08 AM Re: Presenting: An Alkan E-cital! [Re: Orange Soda King]  
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Also, here is a great tribute to Alkan's music by Raymond Lewenthal:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDCOreZjHRg&list=PL07F458160279C609

The above is the first part from a set of 19 videos as fantastic playing and musical examples are included.

Lewenthal was an excellent story teller.

Extra note:

Here is an Alkan book (edited and annotated by Raymond Lewenthal) that every pianist should have:

[Linked Image]

It still appears to be available at amazon.com and a few book stores - as I already own a rather old copy of it, myself!


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