The piano music of Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888) is fortunately gaining more and more recognition by today's general public. This eccentric pianist-composer lived the most part of his life in total reclusion, embittered by his lack of public success. He was a phenomenal pianist, the only pianist in whose presence the celebrated Franz Liszt was nervous to play!
Alkan’s piano works are of colossal substance and difficulty, earning him the nickname of “The Berlioz of the Piano”. Even today only a handful of pianists can do justice to the fierce demands of his music. But it wouldn’t be fair to let the technical difficulties distract the listener from his truly original, personal style, full of wit, energy and deep feelings.
Alkan composed large scale works, such as a Concerto for Piano Solo, a Symphony for piano solo, the monumental “Studies in all major and minor keys” and several books of miniatures. American pianist Alan Weiss (a pupil of Leon Fleisher) chose a substantial selection from Alkan’s piano works, centered around two major pieces: the Sonates Les Quatre Ages and the Symphonie for Piano Solo: a technical and musical tour de force, showing Alkan’s true genius ánd the immense talent of Alan Weiss.