In today’s issue of the Spectator, I discover an amateur pinaist who plays the most difficult works of the unfathomable Charles-Valentin Alkan – and does so with incredible passion and panache.
… Trust me, there is nothing light about this score. In any halfway decent attempt at a performance, the Allegro opening movement sets a pace way over the speed limit and a noise level that is harmful to health. It is followed by a Marche funèbre that calls to mind Mahler’s in his first symphony, with similar splashes of the macabre. And when Alkan writes presto on the finale, he does not mean subsonic. Wee is not the fastest pair of hands I’ve heard – Hamelin’s personal best will take some beating – but he achieves a filigree accuracy and, velocity aside, a tear-streak of real feeling….
Read on here.