One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin


Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive


Cantatas for Soprano

 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for £10.50 postage paid world-wide.

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888)
Complete Recueils de Chants - Volume 2
Recueil de Chants; Quatrième, Op.67 (c.1868) [22:30]: Cinquième, Op.70 (c.1872) [25:36]
Deux Nocturnes, Op.57 (1859) [9:57]
Deux Petites Pièces, Op.60 (1859) [9:48]
Désir Fantaisie (1844) [3:14]
Chapeau bas! Seconda fantasticheria (1872) [8:14]
Stephanie McCallum (piano)
rec. September and November 2012, Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0158 [79:19]

The second volume of Stephanie McCallum’s Alkan survey focuses on the fourth and fifth of his Recueil de Chants. In the first volume there were a few moments where I may have preferred an alternative performance but in these last books she is at her very best. Alkan’s six-piece books contain recurring structural and musical features but they are varied in such a way that interest never flags. The contrast between the prim and flowing rhetoric in the Neige et lave of the fourth book is beautifully delineated, and the noble hymnal second theme of the fifth piece is a product of the cultivation of tone colour and rhythmic vitality. Her ability to deal with the jagged, dogged off-beats is also not in doubt. So, too, the songful tristesse that marks the last of this book, a Barcarolle of disarming intimacy.
 
The opening pieces of each book are invariably fluent, flowing, lyrical and distinctive. He is not above cocking a leg when he feels inclined, and there’s a decidedly parodic piece in this last book, innocently entitled Allegro vivace. However it seems to parody military quick steps, reveille and drum, and ridicule the whole idea of a processional. There’s a relentless, unyielding quality to the penultimate piece, passionately terse, but the finale is a splendid recapitulation, full of typical Alkanesque extremes. The seedbed for all this was Mendelssohn, but the way in which Alkan draws the music toward his very personal sense of tone poetry is, as ever, both bewildering and bewitching.
 
Fortunately there’s yet more in this volume. The Nocturnes (1859) offer a study in contrasts, with the breadth of the Andantino capped by a fast-moving second piece. The Petites Pièces once again derive their potency from their strongly contrasted natures: the first is outsize, playful, witty and the second tender and refined. Désir is a fantasy, brief, it’s true, but still full of lyric warmth. The deliciously named last piece is Chapeau bas! Seconda fantasticheria. Hats off, maybe, but the feel of this eight-minute fiesta of fun is dynamism and sheer elation.
 
Once again Stephanie McCallum is fully inside the music – the booklet notes are outstanding, by the way – and she deserves plaudits for her acutely perceptive dedication to the Alkan cause.
 
Jonathan Woolf