Alkan was counted in Busoni's pantheon of five romantics alongside Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Brahms. Brahms and Schumann are the references in the euphoric Grand Duo Concertant - nothing short of a 20 or so minute Sonata in three turbulent movements. This is a work of diving romance and if Alkan had stopped in the style of the first movement then we would have been able to 'place' Alkan. Instead we get a second movement that clamours in bass heavy capering for all the world like a picture of a Black Sabbath. As if to make ‘amends’ the finale is back to the helter-skelter tumble of vivacity we find in the first movement. This euphoria carries over into the Cello Sonata which is in four classically well-tailored movements. Alkan's originality or eccentricity (take your pick) returns for the Adagio which is part sentimental and part affecting. This perhaps offers a parallel with Joseph Holbrooke's chamber works in which sublime ideas and treatment suddenly find themselves up against kitsch music hall ditties. A wild saltarello with grand manner Hungarian gestures from the piano round out the picture.
The Russian Orthodox Novodevichy Convent, dedicated to the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, was founded in 1524. According to UNESCO, Novodevichy is the best known convent in Moscow, and in 2004 was proclaimed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 1989 recording features the choir of the Dormition Church of the Novodevichy Convent under the direction of Hegumen Petr Polyakov. The album is dedicated to the great jubilee of the Millennium of Baptism of Russia, which celebrated a thousand years of Christianity in Russia.