Soyeon Lee: Scriabin, Piano Music

review scriabin x1 cong
In contrast to a couple of recent couple of classical albums, this is an appealing and digestible album. It’s not only played well but it’s warm and flowing.

Alexander Scriabin’s music was admired by Tolstoy as “a sincere expression of genius” while the composer once described himself as “all impulse, all desire”. He suffered from mental issues and via Wikipedia we found a scientific paper in which the author, Emanuel E Garcia, apparently an expert on music and mental states, says that Scriabin was a genius “of the highest order” whose hit rate —percentage of “masterpieces” v total works composed — is bettered by no one.
Scriabin was influenced by synaesthesia, and associated colours with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale. He did not follow convention: he abandoned his wife for a younger woman (very young — it was statutory rape) and outraged American audiences by taking her on tour. The opening piece on this CD, Sonate-fantasie was written for her. He would only play his own music and often changed the score on whim as he was playing. He went bareheaded when hats were obligatory. For some time before his death he had planned a multi-media work to be performed in the Himalaya Mountains, that would cause a so-called art Armageddon and herald the birth of a new world.
He was heavily influenced by Chopin but loathed Tchaikovsky and hated Rachmaninoff, whose music he called “boiled ham”.

On the basis of this CD, he deserves more recognition. The music feels very human and is more interested in touching the soul than being precise and there is a lack of repetition (a complete lack of repetition according to Mr Garcia). Sonate-fantasie opens (written for Natalia Sekerina) is warm and sensuous, but as it was written for a schoolgirl it’s best not to dwell, but it’s a good opening. The album is mostly flowing and gentle, though there are some powerful moment.
Out now on Naxos,  8559774.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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