Xiayin Wang

Scriabin: Piano Music

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Pianist Xiayin Wang has managed to score with both of her first two discs; a mixed recital, Introducing Xiayin Wang, and some Brahms chamber music partnered with the Amity Players, both for Marquis. In Scriabin: Piano Music, Wang makes her debut on Naxos, and it is a little surprising that Naxos would allow Wang to go forward with this composer; after all, it already has plenty of Scriabin, played by pianists such as Alexander Paley, Beatrice Long, Bernd Glemser, and Evgeny Zarafiants. Nevertheless, Wang is particularly passionate about Scriabin and included some of his music on her first disc, Introducing Xiayin Wang; to have a whole disc of Scriabin with Wang is undoubtedly a boon.

Wang manages to cut a diagonal path across Scriabin's output, largely drawing from lesser known pieces, including the waltzes, poems, and pieces in genres he visited no more than once or a couple of times. These are often treated as afterthoughts by pianists in the course recording of comprehensive Scriabin packages, in several cases that's all you'll ever find of such works on disc. However, Wang treats each as a distinct and separate case, and she spins the neglected Polonaise in B flat minor, Op. 21, into gold, relating it to the Russian tradition of the polonaise with its darker hues and more lumbering, rhythmic profile. She finds what's truly "satanic" about the Poème satanique, Op. 36, a work that often doesn't get very good performances because its uncharacteristically bright, major-key sound seems at odds with the title; however, in Wang's version it is clear that this piece comes from the dark side of Scriabin's musical universe. Speaking of which, her rendition of Vers la flamme -- a piece Wang often plays in recital and is included on her debut -- is everything one would want it to be: muted and gradually emergent at the start, white hot and ecstatic at the end.

Some might comment, "so Wang has just managed to keep her standards up through her third disc; what's exciting about that?" Wang maintains a very high standard, and this Naxos disc continues to manage her recording trajectory much as it was playing out already; nowhere does one get the sense that Wang is compromising in order to conform to Naxos' usual requirements and get a recording made. That is a win-win situation for the label, for Wang, and most significantly the consumer, who will really benefit the most by virtue of this excellent disc.

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