Music and Vision homepage 'Elgar and Chivalry' by Robert Anderson - available now from Elgar.org

 

<<<  <<  -- 6 --  Alistair Hinton    A THRILLING EXPERIENCE

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Volume II ends with the cycle of Pièces dans le style Réligieux, scored (like Pro Organo) for manuals only and followed by another equally modest Handel transcription. These engaging character studies generally eschew the kind of developmental writing to be found among the Grands Préludes, although the last and most disturbing piece in the set seems to venture towards the symphonic-poem-like movements in that cycle, with some bizarre contrasts and a passage in quintuple metre (not the only example of this in Alkan). There can surely be no more accurate overview of this series of pieces than Malcolm MacDonald's elegantly expressed observations that bear quoting in extenso:

'For Alkan(,) the style réligieux seems to have indicated at least a superficial appearance of emotional simplicity: pieces brilliant and optimistic, or lyrically devotional. But his characteristic strangenesses and sense of the incalculable almost always implant a small worm in the bud of these rosy musical pictures.'

In these two sentences, MacDonald alights on the essence of the composer so effectively that one could almost guess whom he was writing about even had he omitted Alkan's name.

In every track on these two CDs, Bowyer's flawless technique and missionary commitment provide ample ammunition to silence all potential doubters. The critical encomia that have already greeted Volume I are well justified; Bowyer's phenomenal mastery is every bit as engaging in Volume II. In looking forward to the third and final CD in this series (anticipated for 2009), one can only wonder why these seminal works have had to wait so long for the recognition that they so richly deserve; the simple answer, however, is that it has been equally necessary to wait for an organist of rare intelligence capable of rising to the often fearsome challenges of this remarkable music.

Copyright © 29 June 2008 Alistair Hinton, Bath UK

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Alkan Organ Works Volume 1

TOCC 0030 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 76'20" 2005 Toccata Classics

Kevin Bowyer, organ of Blackburn Cathedral

Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888): Benedictus Op 54 (1859); 12 Etudes d'Orgue ou de Piano à Pedales pour les Pieds seulement, Nos 1 to 6 (Moderato, C minor; Adagio, C major; Moderato, A minor; Moderato, E flat; Moderato, A minor; Adagio, C sharp minor); 11 Grands Préludes et 1 Transcription du Messie de Haendel, Op 66 (c1867) (Allegro, F major; Allegro moderato, D minor; Andantino, B flat; Moderatamente, G minor; Quasi Adagio, E flat; Andantino, C minor; Andante, 'Alla giudesca', A flat; Tempo giusto, F minor; Langsam, D flat; Scherzando, B flat minor; Lento, F sharp major; Handel transcribed Alkan: Recitative 'Thy rebuke hath broken His heart' and Arioso 'Behold, and see' (Messiah))

BUY VOLUME ONE ONLINE

Alkan Organ Works Volume 2

TOCC 0031 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 73'40" 2007 Toccata Classics

Kevin Bowyer, organ of Blackburn Cathedral

Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888): Pro Organo (1850); 12 Etudes pour les pieds seulement (c1869) (Nos 7-12) (Allegro, F sharp minor; Energicamente, D minor; Moderato, D major; Moderato, D major; Adagio, F minor; Tempo giusto, C major); 11 Pièces dans le Style Religieux, et 1 Transcription, du Messie de Handel Op 72 (c1867) (Tempo giustussimo, C major; Andantino, A major; Quasi-Adagio, D minor; Assez-doucement, G major; Lentement, D minor; Majesteusement, B flat major; Molto Moderato, F major; Assez vite, A minor; Assez lentement, E flat major; Moderement, D minor; Dolcemente, A minor; Handel transcribed Alkan: Larghetto ('Pastoral Symphony') (Messiah), B major)

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KEVIN BOWYER PLAYS THE ORGAN MUSIC OF PAUL FISHER

KEVIN BOWYER IN WARWICK

MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN PLAYS ALKAN

KEVIN BOWYER

KEVIN BOWYER'S SORABJI ORGAN PROJECT

THE SORABJI ARCHIVE

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'Elgar and Chivalry' by Robert Anderson - available now from Elgar.org