Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

For Vincenzo Maltempo there are few reservations regarding Alkan’s genius.

He admits that Alkan’s works, which range from the epic and monstruos to the miniatures provoke both hate and Iove, but goes on to refer to the Concerto for solo piano as one of the peaks of the piano literature of all time.

In the last in a series of Alkan recitals, his playing flashes with summer lightning and a freer, more expressiv romantic leeway than either Ronald Smith (who he praises en passant – EMI, l/70) and Marc-André Hamelin (who he oddly ignores Hyperion, A/07). His reflexes are nervy and rapid and he dispatches every outlandish difficulty with an astonishing ease and fleerness.

Alkan’s cruel demind for strict tempo is replaced by something more impulsive and his silvery-tone Yamaha allows him feats of virtuosity unknown to lesser mortals, intimidated by the composer’s hermetic world, that of a true misanthrope.

‘Comme Ie vent’, is reeled off like so much child’s play but in “En rythme molossique’, Maltempo’s measured tempo is totally in keeping with its pungent and insistent rhythm. Goethe may have believed that small is beautiful but for Akan the reverse is true (despite his miniatures) – and in some way sardonic curse suggested by Maltempo’s dazzling and idiosyncratic performances, finely recorded and presented by piano Classics.

 

Bryce Morrison, Gramophone *****

Robert Nemecek, Piano News

Alkan: Concerto for solo Piano, Piano Classics 2014

Since his debut two years ago with a monographic album devoted to Alkan for the label Piano Classic, the Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo is considered one of the greatest contemporary interpreters of this composer. And now with his third CD dedicated to Alkan fully confirms his reputation. With the ”Concerto for solo piano” Maltempo proposes one of the most amazing works of the entire piano literature, and it must be said that since the epic 1973 recording of John Hogdon, no other pianist as Maltempo has managed to dominate in a so well thought-out and orchestral way, its enormous difficulties. So much so that the first half hour of the first movement in any case is too long. In the three other Etudes Op. 39 Maltempo puts his phenomenal technique at the service of his poetic vision in a suggestive manner.

Robert Nemecek

Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Alkan – Le Festin D’Esope, 3 Morceaux Op. 15, Ouverture, Sonatine

PianoClassics 2013

[...] Vincenzo Maltempo follows his superb accounts of Alkan’s Symphonie and Grande Sonate last year with another exceptional collection [...] that includes the ferociously challenging Sonatine, alongside the last two of the set of 12 Grandes Etudes Op 39, the Ouverture, and the wildly exuberant set of variations named after the story from Greek legend about the banquet that Aesop put on for his master. Maltempo delivers them both, as well as the extraordinary Sonatine, with the kind of larger-than-life swagger and unflinching technique they need, but it’s the Trois Morceaux dans le Genre Pathétique Op 15, which Maltempo’s own sleeve notes describe as the first significant product of Alkan’s maturity, that are even more remarkable. Whether in the sinister, whirling moto perpetuo of the second Le Vent, or the funeral march of the last, Morte, which uses the Dies Irae as a frame and builds to a ferocious climax, Maltempo makes every effect count. Thrillingly demonic.

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 5 stars

Luca Chierici, Classic Voice

Alkan: Concerto per piano Solo, Piano Classics

[…] Maltempo goes beyond the vision of Alkan as “hypervirtuoso”, limiting point of view of some pianists like Hamelin, but at the same time he has remarkable means to penetrate into the spirit of this fascinating music also underlined its technical side of gambling, which seems qualitatively complementary to that of the young Liszt. [...] Maltempo is absolutely at home in this universe in itself and he seems to represent today one of the very few performers who possesses the secret combination to unlock all the treasures of a production so engaging and not at all artificial.

Luca Chierici, Classic Voice, * * * * * (“CD of the month”) Sept. 2013

Pierre Massé, “Pianiste”

Alkan: Concerto per piano solo, Piano Classics

[…] The Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo has a superb lightness of touch, which adds a lyrical temperament that does not neglect neither funny magniloquence nor the accurate effects. He knows how to use his virtuosity to make us forget, even, some whim of writing; the pianist himself practices the art of transcription, and this can be understood from its colorful and orchestral sounds.

Pierre Massé, “Pianiste – Magazine” Sept. 2013-09-27

Bertrand Boissard, Diapason

Alkan: Le Festin d’Esope, Sonatine, Trois Morceaux Op. 15

[…] The works of Alkan require a truly transcendental pianism, a cool head and a remarkable coolness in front of the features and sounds of an oddity that remain unsurpassed, both in his time and in those to come.

The fierce Festin Esope which opens the CD of Vincenzo Maltempo, author of a text of great richness, is presented as a series of variations each most insane than the others. The Italian pianist, whose skills and precision are truly remarkable [...], gives us a fiery execution always well substained. He outclasses Raymond Lewenthal (RCA), who is not always clear and precise and whose sound is quite unappealing, but also that of Ronald Smith (EMI), rather dull and without follies. […]

In the Trois Morceux dans le genre pathétique [...] Maltempo puts all his sensitivity, his lyricism, his clarity of formal conception, the warmth of its marks in the service of this disturbing cycle. […]

With this passionate record Maltempo confirms his place in the restricted circle of Alkan’s best performers.

Bertrand Boissard, Diapason, Sept. 2013, 5 * * * * *

Rafael Sala, Piano News

Alkan  – Sonate “Les quatre ages” – Symphonie pour piano solo

PianoClassics 2011

 

“The interpreter is certainly not second to the composer: as piano compositions by Charles Valentin Alkan are in fact highly virtuosic, so bright is the pianist who faces them, the Italian Vincenzo Maltempo. A wonderful technique, sounds like carved in marble, a courageous and strong execution: difficult to overcome the intensity reached in a work like the Sonata “Les Quatres ages”. ”

Rafael Sala, PianoNews

Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Alkan: Grande Sonate Les Quatre Ages; Symphonie

Alkan’s hyperbolic piano music has always seemed an acquired taste. Monumental in its scale and ambition, and vociferously championed by its supporters, it’s too often disappointing in performance, with little to show for the huge virtuoso effort involved in playing it. But Vincenzo Maltempo pairs two of Alkan’s best-known works, the programmatic Op 33 Sonata, Les Quatre Ages, and the four pieces from the 12 Studies in the Minor Keys Op 39 that make up his solo-piano Symphony, and reveals them as music of great lyrical beauty. Maltempo does not attempt to disguise the more derivative passages (Chopin is regularly invoked and Liszt sometimes anticipated, while the first movement of the Symphony worries away at a theme from Schumann’s Op 17 Fantasy), he plays them all with such conviction and poise that the music seems totally of a piece. There’s no flinching from the most extreme technical demands – the fiendish second movement of the Sonata, Quasi Faust, is triumphantly negotiated – and the sheer strangeness and power of the invention is given free rein. Exhilarating, and a real revelation.

Etienne Moreau, Diapason

Alkan: Grande Sonate Les Quatre Ages; Symphonie

“[...] Vincenzo Maltempo is definite, imaginative and clear in mastering with intelligence moods almost Schumannian and its gradual slowdown [Grand Sonata Op 33]. In Symphony for solo piano, from the more conventional structure, this young performer (27 years old this year) find a resolute and energetic tone without sentimentality or stiffness, and tends an effective arc from the beginning to the end of this path. Without philosophizing and unostentatiously he does not hesitate to dwell on the beauty of a theme, an agreement or harmony, giving the music a certain order. We must return to the pioneering – and undervalued – recordings of Ronald Smith (EMI) to find an approach so healthy and convincing to the music of Alkan. “

Robert Nemecek, Piano News

Liszt- Piano werke – Gramola 2008

Today, where everyone is trying to rid Liszt from the stigma of only “virtuosity”, it may seem almost a provocation that a pianist just put the “paraphrase” at the heart of his Liszt program. But Vincenzo Maltempo [...] does not seem to share this view. He, on the contrary, shows respect and admiration for these works, restoring their dignity music. We did not hear an interpretation of “Réminescences de Norma” with so perfect phrasing and with such a sensual “bel canto” for a long time. Even the “Tarantella di bravura from Auber” does not seem just a mere circus number. Of course, it “roars and thunders” in Maltempo’s interpretation, thanks to his extraordinary piano technique and his “characteristic” Bosendorfer. But unlike other interpretations this theatrical effects is immersed in a thoughtful drama that the Italian interpreter materializes with an unerring instinct for balance and beauty of sound.

Nemecek, Piano News *****

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