Our featured composer on the Piano this week would frequently sit at the piano reading the Bible and playing his music. At one point Charles Valentin Alkan wanted to set the Bible to music, but time did not permit. It is amusing to think of Alkan as the Cecil B. De Mille of the romantic age. And like the movie-mogul, one needs the resources of a great technique, the pianistic equivalent of Cinema-scope to bring the composer's vision to life.
There is a contradiction in Alkan's compositions. The rhetoric is obviously Romantic, but the structure, the nuts of bolts of this music is decidedly classical. Great symmetry is found here. The endlessly repeated notes form a machine like texture that sounds rather modern to our ears which are used to the music of Riley and Glass. Alkan was also rather shy, as you can tell by this picture (seen right.)
On the Piano this Sunday at 5 we sample some of Alkan's best known works.
host Randy Anderson