Bernard Ringeissen, piano
Bernard Ringeissen has the big technique and stylistic empathy to deliver outstanding performances of Alkan's weird and wonderful piano music. His well-received Alkan series on Marco Polo is now being reissued on Naxos, whose budget price makes it an even more desirable acquisition. Ringeissen plays with the energy necessary to make the music come alive. He's no Marc-André Hamelin, whose Alkan recordings are unchallenged, as we can hear in Le Festin d'Esope, which opens the program. But few pianists are in Hamelin's league, and Ringeissen shines in the hourlong Op. 35 Etudes, a dozen pieces exploring the major keys. Some are short studies; others are tone poems for keyboard, such as the 7th Etude, a description of a village fire. The 5th Etude is titled Allegro barbaro, published in 1847, well over half-a-century before Bartok's famous work of the same name, whose tremendous power it anticipates. A well-played program of enduring interest, it's marred only by subpar engineering. --Dan Davis
3件中1 - 3件目のレビューを表示
シャルル＝ヴァランタン・アルカン(1813年11月30日パリ - 1888年3月29日パリ）の求め目指した音楽は弾く者に究極の表現力と叙情性を同時に求める。その中でこのアルバムでの第3番 ト短調 悪魔のスケルツォ(Scherzo-diabolico)と第12番 ホ短調 イソップの饗宴(Le festin d''sope)は特にアルカンらしい曲だが、ここでの演奏はかなり頑張っている。及第点だろう。
Alkan's Op. 35 Etudes seems like a fusion between the technical aims and musical substance of Chopin's and Liszt's Etudes. Each of Alkan's Etudes possesses not only a wealth of melody, but a high degree of individual expression and a pure Alkanian technical signature. Without a doubt, Chopin's lyricism was Alkan's greatest influence in these Etudes; however, one can surely detect Liszt in the overflowing bravura and knuckle-busting virtuosity. Upon acknowledging the sheer pianistic feats and exceptional quality of music in these Etudes, I'm inclined to believe they supplant those of Hummel, Moscheles, Saint-Saens, and even Henselt.
Consider the third study in G major: it starts off as a lovely harmonically stable Andantino, until an intense rift of drama interrupts and brings forth an infernal torrent of passagework that makes Chopin's Op. 25 No. 11 sound like a mere "Breezy Wind." Then there is the fifth Etude, a jaw-dropping and savage "Allegro barbaro" (no relation to Bartok), utilizing only the white keys. Rhythmically and melodically this is the most satisfying virtuosic Etude of the set, one that reaches astonishing tone colors in the impossibly rapid last section. The next masterstroke that balances technical objective with poetic content is the lengthy seventh Etude, "Fire in the Neighboring Village." This is the first "programme" Etude I'm aware of, narrating and suggesting a story like a symphonic poem. Forget the programme, though, because this music doesn't need it. Rivaling the violence, turbulence and heroism of Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude," this work takes on monumental proportions. Its tranquil first section is tender enough, but the tormented central section gushes forth with Romantic grandeur, brutality and anger. If this outstanding piece isn't evidence enough of the amazing virtues of Alkan's Etudes, I would point to the ninth in C sharp major, the "Contrapunctus," a resplendent quasi-Busonian work of Romantic polyphonic texture and Lisztian timbres. It presages Medtner and Godowsky. While I've failed to mention every Etude in depth, they are all worth an equal amount of commentary. I might add one final remark on the powerfully expressive tenth, though, the "Chant d'amour - Chant de mort." Its arsenal includes Chopinesque beauty and Haydnesque surprise. This surprise is so important that Alkan attached a Latin quote to the Etude: "When you expect light, there comes darkness."
Although this recording is invaluable for the featured Op. 35 Etudes, Bernard Ringeissen has raised his status even higher with the precision and interpretative clairvoyance he exercises in the two Op. 39 Etudes, the great "Le Festin d'Esope" and "Scherzo diabolico." I've heard Jack Gibbons, Marc-Andre Hamelin and Ronald Smith perform the 25 variations of the Op. 39 No. 12, and I must say Ringeissen's execution is by far the most agreeable, demonstrating clarity and dynamics that are lacking in other performances. I find Hamelin's delivery too fast and histrionic; and although Gibbons's interpretation is excellent, there is an extra suavity, rhythmic sensitivity and insight into the melodic lines that only Ringeissen has. For beginners to Alkan, this is definitely one of the best places to start, and the work takes its place in the pantheon of virtuosic Theme and Variations. Lastly, I must say that Ringeissen's rendition of the Scherzo diabolico is another success. He obtains a duality of devilish finesse and muscular attack, making it the best version I've heard.
Bottom line: Whether you're completely new to Alkan (as I was when I first bought this CD) or absolutely familiar with these Etudes, this Naxos release is a treasure trove of 19th century piano music. Alkan's Op. 35 is a vast reservoir of electrically-charged, thrilling, and expressive music. The exceptional quality of this music has convinced me that it ranks in the same group of Etudes as Chopin's, Liszt's, Henselt's and Rachmaninov's.
A lot of these etudes are great kind of in the same way that Mozart and Haydn are great (although the musical style is very different). Sometimes (the key word is sometimes) the music isn't necessarily the deepest thing you've ever heard, but its compositional prowess and genius and the sense of inspiration is so impressive that you can't help but appreciate the music. Same story here. 7, 10 and 11 stand out for emotional power and depth, but COMPOSITIONALLY just about all of these are masterpieces, in terms of never losing steam, always displaying a constant flow of musical innovation, etc. Far more inspired than most of Liszt's etudes in my opinion.
Alkan certainly was a virtuoso of great technical ability, and that’s where his high acclaim rests, period. He lacks the sweet refinement and beauty of Chopin, the rugged and soulful warmth of Beethoven, and comes no where close to Liszt’s romantic artistry, emotional intensity or depth. One only needs to compare Liszt’s “Totentanz,” “Dante Sonata,” “Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este,” or “Un Sospiro,” for example, to anything by Alkan to see they are universes apart, or rather ap--Art.
These Alkan curiosities, however, are welcome additions to any pianist or piano lover’s collection, and are historically important. His aggressive and difficult virtuosity amazes. Yet for repeated listenings or as high or profound works of art they pale significantly when played alongside his superior peers or predecessors, hence the reason for his being overshadowed.
Yet, I’m always intrigued to hear what Alkan and other forgotten pianists of his day had to offer, so in that regard, this CD, and others of Alkan’s that I own, deserve a few hearings. Admittedly, Alkan’s Etude VII is the best in the lot and shows how close he could come to his peers when inspired to reach higher than mere technical gymnastics. But when all is said and done, I personally will always gravitate back to the ultimate artistic masters of the Art form.
Henceforth, I rated this album on Alkan’s musicianship and artistry not on Bernard, the pianist, who did a fine job. As such, I gave Alkan 5 stars for virtuosity, yet the lack of musical artistry, depth and inability to sustain repetitious longevity knocks off 2 stars.