Alexander Skrjabin: Complete Piano Sonatas

Vladimir Sofronitsky

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Alexander Skrjabin: Complete Piano Sonatas Review

by Blair Sanderson

Recorded between 1955 and 1961, Vladimir Sofronitsky's performances of the piano sonatas of Alexander Scriabin are collected in this twofer and are nearly complete, except for his partial recording of the Sonata No. 1 in F minor, of which only the final movement is provided, and the absence of the Piano Sonata No. 7. For his time, Sofronitsky was the leading Russian interpreter of Scriabin, and his interpretations were impressive for their brilliant virtuosity and volatile expressive power. Yet these dynamic performances are obscured by serious defects in the recordings, which range from murky, boxy sound to outright distortion, and the volume levels are severely out of balance, especially in the bonus 1951 recording of Heinrich Neuhaus playing the Sonata No. 1, an odd way to redress the missing Sofronitsky movements. Furthermore, Sviatoslav Richter's live 1964 performance of the Sonata No. 7 is included, which, with the Neuhaus, allows Profil to claim the set is complete. Because the value of these recordings is almost entirely in their historical significance, rather than for sound quality or ease of enjoyment, they are recommended for Scriabin specialists and fans of Sofronitsky who don't already have them, but few others.

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