ALKAN Concerto for Solo Piano (Schaghajegh Nosrati)

Record and Artist Details

Genre:

Instrumental

Label: Avi

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: AVI8553104

AVI8553104. ALKAN Concerto for Solo Piano (Schaghajegh Nosrati)

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Toccatina Schaghajegh Nosrati
Étude alla barbaro Schaghajegh Nosrati
(48) Esquisses Schaghajegh Nosrati
Concerto for Solo Piano Schaghajegh Nosrati

Schaghajegh Nosrati (b1989, Bochum, Germany), a new name to me, is one of very few women pianists to have recorded any Alkan. She begins with a selection of three pieces from the 48 Esquisses (miniature tone poems published in 1861), which alone give an idea of the variety and range of his output. In ‘Le vision’ (No 1), ‘Le staccatissimo’ (No 2) and ‘En songe’ (No 48) you get in turn a plaintive piece of disarming simplicity, a virtuoso staccato study and an experimental dreamlike essay in which the pianist is requested to keep both pedals depressed all the way through, ending with the unusual instruction svaporandosi (Alkan’s Italian for ‘evaporating’). The devilishly tricky Toccatina follows (one of his final works), then five more Esquisses including ‘Les soupirs’ (Sighs), which to the innocent ear could easily pass for Debussy. These are punctuated by a work without opus number, the Étude alla barbaro. Personally, I think Esquisses are far more effective when cherry-picked like this – and Nosrati characterises each one with great eloquence and empathy – though if you want to hear all four books in sequence look no further than Steven Osborne (Hyperion, 9/03).

The main work is the Concerto for Solo Piano. Paul Wee’s astonishing recording (BIS, 11/19) takes its place alongside those of Marc-André Hamelin (both of them – Music & Arts, 8/93; Hyperion, A/07) and Jack Gibbons (ASV, 11/95). Nosrati’s does not quite reach their exalted heights but her playing of this leviathan of the repertoire often brings out textual details missing in the recordings by the three men, not least the melodic and rhythmic importance of the first subject of Étude No 8 (the Concerto’s first movement) and the myriad ways in which Alkan uses it throughout. No mere right-hand note-spinner she. Only in one section does she sound unconvincing: the four or five pages before the fermata at 11'39". Hamelin, whose Alkan recordings first inspired Nosrati to investigate the composer, plays in long paragraphs rather than phrases, his urgent forward momentum bringing more cohesion to the huge structure (note the difference in timings: Hamelin 28'14"; Nosrati 32'06"). In the finale, one could argue that Hamelin, with his utterly astonishing dexterity, forges ahead a little too enthusiastically, whereas Nosrati, though far from being studio-bound, displays a more restrained exuberance. She is unreservedly a musician with a formidable technique. Moreover, the piano is very well recorded – and she adds her own most perceptive essay on the music. Brava!

This is the fourth outstanding Alkan disc to come my way in as many months. At this rate, conservatoire professors and concert promoters will have to start acknowledging Alkan as standard repertoire. Oh wait! Was that a pig I saw flying past my study window?

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