Alexander Scriabin

Scriabine par Scriabine

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Composer and pianist Alexander Scriabin did make recordings in the form of wax cylinders in about 1913, but these were lost sometime during the chaos of the Russian Revolution. As a result, the only evidence left to posterity of what Scriabin may have sounded like at the keyboard is ten Welte Mignon piano rolls Scriabin made in Moscow in 1910. This Saison Russe disc entitled Scriabine et les Scriabiniens opens with Scriabin's rolls, to which the translation errantly refers to as "cylinders," as taken from a deteriorating tape of a Russian radio broadcast made in the 1950s. These are played on a clunky Welte in a bad state of repair in a boomy, bright concert hall setting, mostly at speeds set too fast, but in a couple of cases set too slowly. For a long time, Scriabine et les Scriabiniens was the only game in town if one wanted to hear all of Scriabin's piano rolls together, and it has since been superseded elsewhere.

However, Scriabin's rolls will not fill up a whole CD, and it is in the filler material here that Scriabine et les Scriabiniens is still of value. It is hard to get excited about the playing of Alexander Goldenweiser due to his stiff tempi, occasional slips in the fingers, and generally cold presentation of the music. However, Samuel Feinberg is another matter; Feinberg presents Scriabin's seldom-played Mazurkas Op. 3 with a sense of looseness and abandon, having a wholly unique perspective on this music. More restrained is Heinrich Neuhaus, whose approach displays considerable sensitivity to Scriabin's music and is presented in better sound than in most of the other selections. Saison Russe has saved the best for last in presenting three of Vladimir Sofronitsky's recordings at the end of the package. His 1959 recording of Vers la flame blazes through the bad sound and distortion of the old Soviet radio tape to deliver a pianistic experience that is truly electrifying. So, if you are looking for Scriabin's own playing, you can do better; yet if you are interested in his disciples, Scriabine et les Scriabiniens is an excellent place to start.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Preludes (24) for piano, Op. 11
1
0:49
2
1:41
3
0:43
Preludes (4) for piano, Op. 22
4
1:13
Mazurkas (2) for piano, Op. 40
5
0:52
6
1:21
Etudes (12) for piano, Op. 8
7
1:50
8
3:15
Preludes (5) for piano, Op. 15
9
1:52
10
1:03
11
1:13
12
1:28
Preludes (5) for piano, Op. 16
13
2:24
14
1:15
15
1:49
16
0:51
17
0:39
Mazurkas (10) for piano, Op. 3
18
3:45
19
2:10
20
1:58
21
3:56
22
4:05
23
2:16
24
3:31
Preludes (24) for piano, Op. 11
25
2:02
26
1:40
27
1:27
28
1:20
29
1:27
Preludes (6) for piano, Op. 13
30
1:59
31
0:38
32
1:08
33
0:56
34
0:52
35
1:28
Etudes (12) for piano, Op. 8
36
1:49
37
2:25
Etude for piano in C sharp minor, Op. 2/1
38
3:15
39
5:18
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