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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Musical Interlude

[For politics, please scroll down]

For your listening pleasure this weekend, enjoy 25 Preludes, Opus 31 by Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888), performed by the award-winning Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen:

Book I
1. Lentement (Slowly), C major
2. Assez lentement (quite slowly), F minor 1:55
3. Dans le genre ancien (In the ancient genre), D-flat major 3:50
4. Prière du soir (Evening prayer) , F-sharp minor 5:59
5. Psaume 150me (Psalm 150), D major 7:23
6. Ancienne mélodie de la synagogue (Ancient melody of the synagogue), G minor 9:42
7. Librement mais sans secousses (Freely but without bumps), E-flat major 13:41
8. Le chanson de la folle au bord de la mer (The song of the insane woman by the sea), A-flat minor 15:17
9. Placiditas (Gently), E major 18:11

Book II
10. Dans le style fugué (In the fugue style), A minor 20:00
11. Un petit rien (A little nothing), F major 21:12
12. Le temps qui n'est plus (Times that are no more), B-flat minor 22:22
13. J'étais endormie, mais mon cœur veillait (I was asleep, but my heart was awake), G-flat major 23:43
14. Rapidement (Quickly), B minor 26:15
15. Dans le genre gothique (In the gothic genre), G major 28:19
16 Assez lentement (Very slowly), C minor 30:12
17. Rêve d'amour (Dream of love), A-flat major 31:20

Book III
18. Sans trop de mouvement (Without too much movement), C-sharp minor 33:03
19. Prière du matin (Morning prayer), A major 35:52
20. Modérement vite et bien caracterise (Moderately fast and with spirit), D minor 36:28
21. Doucement (Gently), B-flat major 37:50
22. Anniversaire (Anniversary), E-flat minor 39:15
23. Assez vite (Quite fast), B major 41:41
24. Étude de velocite (Velocity study), E minor 43:05
25. Prière (Prayer) , C major 45:02

[more information about the composer and these preludes HERE at Musical Musings and HERE at Wikipedia]


  1. A RARE TREAT! Repertoire from the Nineteenth-Century I have never heard before till now.

    Alkan's music never achieved the high degree of acclaim given his contenporaries Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and Liszt, but it's still eminently worthwhile.

    Though long forgotten since he first appeared Alkan enjoyed a revival back in the 1960's thanks largely to the efforts of a then-young American pianist Raymond Lewenthal.

    It's always a bit astonishing –– and very encouraging to me, particularly ––, to discover whole worlds of magnificent achievement by relatively unknown performers in places hardly known in the United States.

    I'm going to boomark this post, and listen to all these pieces at my leisure later on.

    Alkan was no Chopin, Liszt or Brahms, but his music has a great deal more to offer than the miserable, perverse, simple-minded stuff that regrettably has gained popularity in the past sixty years.

    Thanks for digging this up, AOW.

  2. Olli Mustonen, now 41, plays with great sensitivity, and deep understanding. His technique is flawless with a compelling control of dynamics (different types of touch and variety of tone).

    I would love to hear him play major works in the standard repertoire. I read about him and saw he has recorded with the world-famous violinist Joshua Bell. That should be a great treat. Bell performs only with the very best pianists.

    So many marvels to look forward to! One need at least ten lifetimes to experience them all, yet so many claim to be bored, and would rather spend days ion end talkug about President Trump's off-the-cuff choice of words in a what-was supposed -to-be a PRIVATE meeting. >;-c

    I was o ly going to lusten to a little but of this when I started, but it's so fine I've aready heard the first thirty minutes of the forty-five minute offering.

    I can tell just on first hearing these pieces make extraordinary demands on the technique of any pianist who attempts to perform them. This playing is truly awesome (an overworked term I reserve for the most extraordinary phenomena).

  3. I had not heard of him before... interesting notes given. It was an amazing time to live and to hang with such a crowd. Will come back later and listen to more.


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