Top Ear’s favorite composer you’ve never heard of, Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888), celebrates his 200th birthday this year in November. To pay tribute to this amazing composer, pianist Stephanie McCallum will be recording Alkan’s complete Recueils de Chants, which is in turn five song-books in the style of Mendelssohn’s Lieder Ohne Worte and Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, each ending with a barcarolle. The first volume in the series will be released in Feburary 2013 on Toccata Classics.
Product page: http://www.toccataclassics.com/cddetail.php?CN=TOCC0157
By far the most popular piece in these sets is the Barcarolle in G minor of Book 3, followed by the E Major song of Book 1, and they have been recorded by such pianists as Marc-André Hamelin, Ronald Smith and Jack Gibbons. Hamelin in particular recorded the complete Book 3 as a filler in his second recording of Alkan’s monumental Concerto for Solo Piano on Hyperion.
Though some may think McCallum is the first one to bring these exquisite sets of works to light in their entirety, this is not true: the first pianist to do so was Jacqueline Mefano (though her recording is now long out of print). Une Fusée, however, is a premiere recording.
Top Ear looks forward to this recording and hopes to review it in due course.