I was very pleased with this recording. Although I am certainly not used to listening to pieces of music less than three minutes long (I tend to go for longer, more ambitious works), it is very refreshing to hear miniatures like these being performed by such a pianist as Laurent Martin. The range of moods and colours which Alkan manages to portray here is amazing; from the clumsy footsteps of the man in boots ("L'homme aux sabots") to the impressionistic images created in "Les Soupirs" (prophetic of Debussy - who studied Alkan's works while at the Paris Conservatoire). From the cantankerous, darkly petulant nature of "Increpatio", to the colourful yet spiky devilry of the tone clusters in "Les Diablotins". Typically for Alkan, he finishes off the work as a whole with a hymn of praise to God, "Laus Deo". This deeply religious man shows conclusive evidence here of dedication to one's art, composing his feelings onto manuscript for our historical and musical benefit.
The performance is great, the sound exemplary, the price better than anywhere else, three cheers for Naxos who pull off another Alkan treat. No Alkanholic or even pianophile should be without it.