Comme le vent

Comme le vent (Like the wind) is the first of the Études in the minor keys, Op. 39 for solo piano by the French composer Charles-Valentin Alkan. It is in A minor. The tempo marking is prestissimamente (eighth note = 160), and the unusual 2
time signature further encourages a fast performance. The piece is mostly quiet, but is interrupted by short loud outbursts.

The beginning of the work's score, with its unusual tempo and time signature

The piece is technically demanding, requiring extreme digital velocity and dexterity, as well as stamina: lasting on average four and a half minutes, its 23 pages contains long passages of perpetual triplet-32nd notes (triplet demisemiquavers) for the right hand. At the notated metronome marking, this corresponds to 16 notes per second throughout much of the piece, and in one section containing 64th notes, more than 21 notes per second.

The piece is not to be confused with Alkan's earlier Le vent, one of the Trois morceaux op. 15. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji considered the earlier piece to be better, making the later piece 'rather anticlimactic and redundant.'[1]

The piece was in the repertoire of Sergei Rachmaninoff in the 1919/1920 concert season.[2]


  1. ^ K. Sorabji, Around Music, (1932), p. 217
  2. ^ "Performance diary October 1919" on Rachmaninoff Society Performance Diary website, accessed 30 March 2015.

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