Charles-Valentin Alkan: The Complete Transcriptions, Volume One: Mozart
The gloriously maverick music of Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–88) is more familiar now than ever before. But even though his original compositions are now beginning to be heard in concert programmes, his equally idiosyncratic transcriptions have not yet been systematically documented in recordings – an omission this series, which begins with Alkan’s complete transcriptions of Mozart, seeks to redress.
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Songs 1970-2006
Instrumental and vocal techniques are intertwined in the music of Harrison Birtwistle: he often treats the voice instrumentally and his instrumental writing has vocal characteristics. Many of his works for small ensembles, with or without voices, occupy this common ground, his highly individual style juxtaposing the static and the violently dynamic and intersecting with his fondness for ritual and myth – not least a recurrent concern with the figure of Orpheus. This recording presents some of these relatively neglected pieces, recorded live in the presence of the composer, who also talks about his songs in interview.
Konstantin Eiges: Piano Music
Konstantin Romanovich Eiges (1875–1950), a member of a gifted Jewish family from eastern Ukraine, studied both in medicine and music in Moscow, but soon became known as an outstanding composer and pianist. His music bears the impress of Taneyev, his teacher, and of Skryabin and has points in common with his friends Medtner and Rachmaninov, but this first recording of his piano music reveals a figure who deserves to be remembered in his own right.
Charles O’Brien: Complete Orchestral Music, Volume One
The rediscovery of the music of the Edinburgh composer Charles O’Brien (1882–1968) continues with his most important work, his only symphony, a full-scale Romantic score in the tradition of Schumann and Brahms, powerful and lyrical by turn. It is coupled here with the later, more extended of the two versions O’Brien made of his heartening, Walter Scott-inspired overture Ellangowan, resplendent with a big Scottish tune which lingers in the memory.