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TO 0030

Alkan: Organ Music, Volume 1

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2008

Originally recorded in 2008


Kevin Bowyer



Blackburn Cathedral


Richard Tanner

Martin Anderson



Lance Andrews

Record Label



Total Time - 75:55
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Benedictus, Op. 54


12 Etudes d'Orgue ou de Piano a Pedales pour les Pieds seulement, No. 1-6

2 No. 1. Moderato, C major 1:29
3 No. 2. Adagio, C major 3:21
4 No. 3. Moderato, A minor 2:32
5 No. 4. Moderato, E flat 2:45
6 No. 5. Moderato, A minor 2:46
7 No. 6. Adagio, C sharp minor 5:12

11 Grand Preludes et 1 Transcription du Messie de Haendel, Op. 66

8 No. 1. Allegro, F major 1:23
9 No. 2. Allegro moderato, D minor 2:16
10 No. 3. Andantino, B flat 4:06
11 No. 4. Moderatamente, G minor 4:26
12 No. 5. Quasi adagio, E flat 4:45
13 No. 6. Andantino, C minor 4:36
14 No. 7. Andante, 'Alla giudesca', A flat 3:36
15 No. 8. Tempo giusto, F minor 5:06
16 No. 9. Langsam, D flat 6:49
17 No. 10. Scherzando, B flat minor 4:19
18 No. 11. Lento, F sharp major 3:23
19 Handel, Messiah, transcr.Alkan: Recitative 'Thy rebuke hath broken His heart' and Arioso 'Behold, and see' 4:12

In the last three decades the staggeringly original piano music of Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–88) has emerged from the darkness that had surrounded it over the past century and now it features regularly in the repertoire of some of today’s best young pianists. But Alkan’s organ music – no less powerful and imaginative – has yet to become known, even to a specialist public. This is the first of three CDs presenting all of Alkan’s unrecorded music for organ.

‘I can’t imagine a better introduction to this composer’s singular musical language… It’s abundantly clear that the Organ Works of Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-88) are an essential part of the repertoire – that they have barely made a foothold is utterly astonishing…. Toccata Classics plans two more issues of Alkan’s organ music – both are eagerly anticipated’

Morgan Hayes

Classical Source

              Performance: ****      Sound:****
‘Recordings of the piano music... have done much to establish that Alkan was one of the most important composers for piano of the 19th century. Now comes a disc that suggests he should also be taken seriously by organists. [...] ...these are visionary pieces. They are anything but dry, and amazement at their fleet-footed virtuosity rapidly gives way to admiration for the range of musical expression... Kevin Bowyer finds drama and wit by turns through inventive registrations and a touch of the dash and daring that is the hallmark of the piano music.’

Christopher Dingle

BBC Music - November 2005

‘...with this release from Toccata Classics, [Kevin Bowyer]  has again revealed that the enigmatic figure of  Charles-Valentin Alkan has much to offer lovers of the organ… […] I have to confess it took a few careful listens before I was convinced that there was not an actual orchestra lurking in the background… […] by all accounts [Alkan’s] organ technique was as remarkable as his command of the piano. That’s quite a challenge for Bowyer, but both his organ technique and his powerful intellectual grasp of the musical arguments ensure that these performances probably get remarkably close to the effect Alkan himself would have achieved. […] when it comes to Kevin Bowyer we have to accept that he is, quite simply, a truly unique figure in the world of organ-playing.’

Marc Rochester

International Record Review - November 2005

‘Three discs of [Alkan’s organ music] are on their way and, judging from volume 1, they are works of stature and originality. […] Kevin Bowyer is a fine advocate for this music.’

Patrick C Waller


MusicWeb - November 2005

‘...atmospherically expressive… Bowyer keeps a tight sense of structure and technical control. […] fascinating’

Ying Chang


Musical Pointers - June 2006

                       Want List for Adrian Corleonis [2007]

‘...pride of place goes to Kevin Bowyer’s stratospheric performances of Alkan’s “organ works”—music conceived for pédalier (a piano with an organ-like pedal board), an instrument that no longer exists. For those few who relish Alkan’s unique mixture of grandeur and bizarrerie, enigmatic teasing and blinding revelation, Toccata’s album opens a new and unsuspected chapter. An absolute classic!’

Adrian Corleonis

Fanfare - November/December 2007

‘Unfamiliar repertoire and monstrous challenges are probably what Kevin Bowyer devours daily before breakfast…. A thrilling experience for the listener. […] In every track on these two CDs [Vols I and II], Bowyer’s flawless technique and missionary commitment provide ample ammunition to silence all potential doubters. […]  one can only wonder why these seminal works have had to wait so long for the recognition that they so richly deserve; the simple answer, however, is that it has been equally necessary to wait for an organist of rare intelligence capable of rising to the often fearsome challenges of this remarkable music.’

Alistair Hinton

Music & Vision Daily - 29 June 2008

                        Download Roundup November 2009
‘...a strong recommendation… I’m not a great fan of Alkan’s piano music, but his organ works are a different matter, especially when played as well as they are here.’

Brian Wilson

MusicWeb - November 2009

"...Kevin Bowyer is a fine advocate for this music." "...a strong recommendation for this disc."
Patrick C. Waller

MusicWeb International

"If you have any spare Christmas cash do make this glorious disc a priority. The first in a promised series of three, it scores top marks in every department. [...] Blackburn Cathedral’s magnificent Walker/Wood organ (superbly captured by sound engineer Lance Andrews) combined with Bowyer’s effortless artistry and Malcolm MacDonald’s masterful notes make this a must-have recommendation."

Malcolm Riley


Gramophone - January 2006

’For Bowyer’s stupendous artistry no less than for the revelatory program, this exceeds all praise – not merely Want List or Hall of Fame material but pre-eminently among the great recorded performances of our new century. […] don’t wait to grab this.’
Adrian Corleonis



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