An exceptionally gifted and vulnerable virtuoso piano, he was a demanding and inventive composer, a tormented artist who produced a kaleidoscopic and passionate body of work. Alkan is fascinating because of the mystery that still shrouds his life and his work; after a spectacular early career, he withdrew from society, taking refuge in his inner world.
«I wanted to showcase all the composer’s facets, in a multifaceted way. The Grande Sonate Les quatre âges, is a colossal, gigantic work, a sort of romantic ideal of the sonata, which undoubtedly influenced Liszt’s. As a counterpart to this great work, I selected shorter pieces, like the Esquisses, which show a composer who could capture a moment in time. And then I also selected a number of pieces that are both visionary and «anchored» in their era. The Barcarolle is reminiscent of Mendelssohn and prefigures Satie, as with les Soupirs for Scriabine and even Debussy. While the Nocturne is similar to Chopin’s opus 32, Les Cloches and the Prélude La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer illustrate Alkan’s fascination with realism, everyday life, the strange and the extraordinary.»