Charles-Valentin Alkan: Organ Works, Volume One

Catalogue No: TOCC0030
EAN/UPC: 5060113440303
Release Date: 2005-05-02
Composer: Charles-Valentin Alkan
Artists: Kevin Bowyer

In the last three decades the staggeringly original piano music of Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-88) has emerged from the darkness that had surrounded it over the past century and now it features regularly in the repertoire of some of today’s best young pianists. But Alkan’s organ music – no less powerful and imaginative – has yet to become known, even to a specialist public. This is the first of three CDs presenting all of Alkan’s unrecorded music for organ.

Kevin Bowyer, organ

Listen To This Recording:

  1. Benedictus, Op. 54 (1859)
  2. 12 Études pour les Pieds seulement, Nos. 1–6 (c. 1869)

  3. No. 1, Moderato, C minor
  4. No. 2, Adagio, C major
  5. No. 3, Moderato, A minor
  6. No. 4, Moderato, E flat
  7. No. 5, Moderato, A minor
  8. No. 6, Adagio, C sharp minor
  9. No. 1, Allegro, F major
  10. 11 Grands Préludes et 1 Transcription du Messie de Handel, Op. 66 (1859)

  11. No. 2, Allegro moderato, D minor
  12. No. 3, Andantino, B flat
  13. No. 4, Moderatamente, G minor
  14. No. 5, Quasi Adagio, E flat
  15. No. 6, Andantino, C minor
  16. No. 7, Andante, ‘Alla giudesca’, A flat
  17. No. 8, Tempo giusto, F minor
  18. No. 9, Langsam, D flat
  19. No. 10, Scherzando, B flat minor
  20. No. 11, Lento, F sharp major
  21. Handel, Messiah, transcr. Alkan: Recitative ‘Thy rebuke hath broken His heart’ and Arioso ‘Behold, and see’

8 reviews for Charles-Valentin Alkan: Organ Works, Volume One

  1. :

    ‘For Bowyer’s stupendous artistry no less than for the revelatory program, this exceeds all praise – not merely Want List or Hall of Fame material but pre-eminently among the great recorded performances of our new century.’

    —Adrian Corleonis, Fanfare Magazine

  2. :

    ‘If you have any spare Christmas cash do make this glorious disc a priority. The first in a promised series of three, it scores top marks in every department. […] Blackburn Cathedral’s magnificent Walker/Wood organ (superbly captured by sound engineer Lance Andrews) combined with Bowyer’s effortless artistry and Malcolm MacDonald’s masterful notes make this a must-have recommendation.’

    —Malcolm Riley, Gramophone

  3. :

    ‘…flawless technique and missionary commitment…’

    —Alistair Hinton, Music & Vision

  4. :

    ‘…works of stature and originality. … Kevin Bowyer is a fine advocate for this music. … My sense is that excellence in documentation is another strategic aim for this label and rightly so at “full price”. There is a very detailed and interesting essay on the music by Malcolm MacDonald and a likeable note about the artist. … a strong recommendation for this disc.’

    —Patrick C. Waller, MusicWeb International

  5. :

    ‘…when it comes to Kevin Bowyer we have to accept that he is, quite simply, a truly unique figure in the world of organ-playing.’


  6. :

    ‘This volume contains the first six Etudes. Written at a time when French writing for pedals was overwhelmingly cautious, these are visionary pieces. They are anything but dry, and amazement at their fleet-footed virtuosity rapidly gives way to admiration for the range of musical expression, especially in the broad unfolding of number six. The Benedictus and the Grands Préludes work marvellously well on organ. Kevin Bowyer finds drama and wit by turns through inventive registrations and a touch of the dash and daring that is the hallmark of the piano music.’

    BBC Music Magazine

  7. :

    ‘The nine-minute Benedictus, which opens this release, is worth the price of the disc alone: churning ostinatos from sepulchral depth alternate with an exquisite soaring melody. It’s one of Alkan’s finest creations and I can’t imagine a better introduction to this composer’s singular musical language.’

    — Morgan Hayes, Classical Source

  8. :

    ‘Kevin Bowyer’s excellent performance on this disc brings out the Mephistophelian qualities [of Benedictus in D minor] that likely appealed to Busoni — the piece is both messianic and demonic, an alchemical concoction that could only have arisen from the pen of a figure as secretive and obscure as Alkan. […]

    Bowyer, […] has found the creepiest-sounding stops on the Blackburn instrument to realize Alkan’s devilish vision in registrations that suits it (does any organ truly have a stop marked “Creepy”?), and this alone makes the recording easily recommendable.’

    —Uncle Dave Lewis, AllMusic

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