CHARLES-VALENTIN ALKAN (1813-1888): Organ Works, Vol. 2 - 11 Pièces dans le Style Religieux, et 1 Transcription, du Messie de Handel, Op. 72, Études pour les pieds seulement Nos. 7-12, Pro Organo.
Catalogue Number: 07K042
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0031
Description: It isn't hard to appreciate why; these are fully-fledged pieces of music, requiring not only unlikely levels of co-ordination and velocity from the organist's feet, as well as chord-playing, smoothly articulated figuration and effortless phrasing in changing rhythms and melodies decorated with ornaments and grace notes - but also musical expression, as every one of these pieces is a miniature tone-poem with its own dramaturgy. While obviously not to be directly compared with the minor-key 'Studies' for the piano, the bottom line is that even putting aside the jaw-dropping technical demands specific to the idiom of the works, they are still first-rate Alkan miniatures by any standard. The 'Pieces in religious Style' are much simpler; here Alkan seems to have been more concerned with expressions of faith and lyrical devotion than with the diablerie familiar from his piano works. Nevertheless, these are highly original little pieces, and characteristic harmonic twists and diversions of the melodic line into unexpected byways constantly remind us who the composer is. Kevin Bowyer (organ of Blackburn Cathedral).