Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a thrilling journey into the musical world of Charles-Valentin Alkan. In the capable hands of our piano virtuoso Archie Chen, we will explore the enigmatic and captivating world of this once-renowned composer. It was only last year, on November 30th, when the world celebrated Alkan's 200th birthday. Though he may have been somewhat forgotten, we are here to shine a light on his exceptional talent.
Charles-Valentin Alkan was a contemporary, friend, and colleague of the musical greats such as Chopin and Liszt. Despite his early successes, Alkan eventually faded into obscurity, retreating from public life due to a series of personal events. He was known to be an introverted character, with a penchant for both the peculiar and the dramatic. Alkan's untimely demise in 1888 is said to have been caused by a falling bookcase – a tale that, if true, would indeed be one of the most improbable in musical history.
But let us return to the music. Alkan's compositions are notorious for their technical demands and complexity, making them accessible only to the most talented virtuosos. Enter Archie Chen, our fearless pianist, who will masterfully navigate the intricate depths of Alkan's "Le festin d'Ésope" Etude op. 39, no. 12. This lively and engaging piece is a set of 25 variations on an original theme, providing ample opportunity for Archie to showcase his dazzling technical prowess.
The theme of "Le festin d'Ésope" bears a striking resemblance to a Hasidic melody, yet it also contains traces of more familiar tunes. There are those who believe that each variation represents an animal from an Aesop fable, while others argue that the title refers to a feast recounted in an apocryphal life of Aesop. Whichever interpretation you prefer, there is no doubt that the piece is brimming with wit, humor, and virtuosity.
Archie Chen's performance of this intricate work will not only allow us to appreciate Alkan's genius but also demonstrate the pianist's own remarkable talent. As you listen to Archie's interpretation, you will find yourself immersed in a musical narrative that tells of the enchanting, mysterious, and at times mischievous world of Charles-Valentin Alkan.
So sit back, relax, and allow Archie Chen to guide you on this captivating exploration of Alkan's "Le festin d'Ésope" Etude op. 39, no. 12. With his exceptional virtuosity and a healthy dose of humor, Archie will breathe new life into the music of this enigmatic composer, proving once and for all that the legacy of Charles-Valentin Alkan is alive and well.
Live from the Hugh Lane Gallery on August 4th, 2013 as part of the concert series of the Dublin International Piano Festival & Summer Academy. Please comment and share.
My SoundCloud Channel: https://soundcloud.com/archie-chen
Official Website: http://www.archiechen.com
Youtube DIPF https://www.youtube.com/c/PianofestivalIe
Youtube Archie https://www.youtube.com/c/ArchieChenPianist
Festival Website: http://www.pianofestival.ie
Teaching Website: http://www.pianoacademy.ie
Piano: Hamburg Steinway B
Piano Technician: Martin Walsh
Recording Engineer: Joey McDonald
Piano provided by Pianos Plus
- Piano Solo