Alkan, Liszt: Le festin d’esope, Op. 39/12; Barcarolle, Op. 65/6; Quasi-Faust; Symphonie

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COMPOSERS: Alkan,Liszt
LABELS: RCA High Performance
WORKS: Le festin d’esope, Op. 39/12; Barcarolle, Op. 65/6; Quasi-Faust; Symphonie
PERFORMER: Raymond Lewenthal (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63310 2 ADD Reissue (1965, 1966)
Busoni considered Alkan equal to Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Brahms where piano music concerned, but he remains a peripheral figure. Le Festin d’Esope clearly illustrates the reasons for his compromised status: although marked by spiralling imagination, his tendency to overstatement sometimes verges dangerously on insanity. The tiny, but ravishing, Barcarolle is perhaps the most completely satisfying piece on the record, although the weirdly expressionist Quasi-Faust movement from his second sonata is always gripping. Raymond Lewenthal measures up to Alkan’s fearsome demands with expressive gusto; the piano sound, though good for the mid Sixties, is at times a touch constricted. Jan Smaczny

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