P0175. RONALD SMITH: Les Quatres Ages; Études; La Chanson de la folle; Allegro barbaro (all Alkan). (England) EMI 64280, recorded 1897 & 1977. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 077776428024
"We owe much to the British pianist Ronald Smith, who almost singlehandedly has retrieved the work of Charles-Valentin Alkan from its mid-19th-century burial place. Chopin admired this fierce, maniacally difficult music, but others - if they were ever aware of it - soon forgot it.
Alkan's music is filled with surprises, many grotesquely daring, others overwhelmingly complex. But it is not Alkan's originality that holds our attention; it is his his obsessive personality - his way of fixing upon one rhythmic figure, a certain color, a chordal pattern, even a single note, and squeezing it with monomaniacal devotion. Chopin was a lyric lover, Liszt an oratorical one, but Alkan was a lover possessed.
Mr. Smith's performance was no mere act of survival - in which memory and technique meet every test. It was also a musical experience in the best sense of that word. He deserves our thanks.”
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 Jan., 1983