Ronald Smith, English pianist . . .

by mulberryshoots


Ronald Smith‘s playing of Alkan‘s “Concerto for Piano” is so thoughtfully wrought – majestic, musical and just plain gorgeous. We came upon a snippet recording of it on YouTube David Dubal’s 30 minute interview of RS and were astonished that we had never heard this performance before. Up to two nights ago, my husband and I had thought only Marc-Andre Hamelin’s two recordings of it stood as the gold standard of this piece which, truth be told, was the composition which embraced the early days of our courtship.

Now there’s room for this beautiful recording. I had to track it down in a 2004 EMI remastered compendium of Ronald Smith’s ALKAN PROJECT on and download it as a MP3 recording. (I tried to find it again to link to this post but was unable to locate it.)

My husband was an Alkan “nut” when we first met over twenty years ago and although the Internet was not around then, he had amassed almost all of the Alkan scores and CDs of pianists playing Alkan at the time: John Ogdon, Raymond Lewanthal, Marc Andre Hamelin and Laurent Martin. He also had a copy of Ronald Smith’s two-volume biography of Charles Valentin Alkan.

When we travelled to England to visit my daughter who was a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1994, my husband was able to contact Ronald Smith on the telephone, a gracious encounter – and we also had dinner with the Secretary of the Alkan Society in Salisbury when we first arrived.

Ronald Smith has done the musical world a service worth its weight in gold by promoting the music of Charles Valentin Alkan. There is none other as poignantly beautiful. Thank you, Ronald Smith!