ALKAN Charles-Valentin, Comme le vent (arr. for Calefax)
Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–1888) was a prodigy, described as a child with ‘amazing abilities’ at his audition for the Paris Conservatoire in 1820. In the 1830s he established friendships with Liszt and Chopin and gave concerts with both of them. After experiencing bitter professional disappointments in the late 1840s, Alkan became a virtual recluse between 1850 and 1873 when he reappeared unexpectedly and his playing excited a younger generation including Saint-Saëns. An extraordinary pianist (Liszt said that Alkan possessed the finest technique he had ever known) he was also a strikingly original composer. ‘Comme le vent’ is the first of his 12 études in all the minor keys, first published in 1857 during his years of retreat. Marked prestissimamente it is a dizzying tour de force.
© Nigel Simeone