Alkan & Henselt: Piano Concertos

Alkan & Henselt: Piano Concertos

Marc-André Hamelin (piano), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins (conductor)


The coupling of works by Alkan and Henselt is not as arbitrary as might appear. Born six months apart, both enjoyed long lives and died within eighteen months of each other; both have been entirely overshadowed by their more illustrious contemporaries Liszt and Chopin (to the extent that they have been assigned to the footnotes of musical history), though both had an individual approach to the piano with a style as clearly defined and as idiosyncratic as their two peers; both were recluses, rarely playing their works in public; both were transcendent technicians, exploring the potential of their instrument in ways which were to influence other pianists and composers of piano music; both were eccentrics in their personal habits and lifestyles; both have been almost universally ignored by the majority of concert pianists; and neither of their names is known to the general music-loving public. (Although there has been a marked revival of interest in Alkan’s work over the past three decades, there is still only grudging acknowledgement of his importance from the musical ‘establishment’.)

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