Charles-Valentin Alkan

I’m still absorbing Marc-André Hamelin’s three albums of Alkan, but as soon as I’ve wrapped my head around them, a more substantive post will be written. For now, marvel in the virtuosity of both Hamelin as a performer and Alkan as a composer.

Contemporary of Chopin and Liszt, who praised him as the finest pianist he’d seen play. Child prodigy, passed over for the head of the Conservatoire, he went into seclusion for 25 years to compose and translate the entire Old Testament from Hebrew into French. Apocryphal story says he passed away at 74, crushed by a bookshelf while reaching for a volume of the Talmud off the top shelf. Whether that’s actually true or not, I want it to be. His undeserved obscurity baffles me – possibly due to the immense complexity of his works.

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