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Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (1872-1915)

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Scriabin & Janacek: Sonatas & Poems

Scriabin & Janacek: Sonatas & Poems


Janacek:

On An Overgrown Path

Piano Sonata 1.X.1905 in E flat minor, JW VIII/19 'From the Street'

Scriabin:

Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 53

Deux poèmes, Op. 32

Vers la flamme, Op. 72

Piano Sonata No. 4 in F sharp major, Op. 30


The music of Scriabin and Janacek - contrasting and highly eccentric composers dear to Stephen Hough’s heart - make for a perfect recital. The sensual perfumes of the one intertwine with the disruptive obsessions of the other, and Hough the magician tightens his spell.

“in wave after wave of opulently ambivalent harmony, Hough brings orientation and direction without sacrificing sensuality or mystical aura. He accomplishes this through an almost uncanny variety of touch, tone production and judicious pedalling…Hough's contribution in this release could scarcely be more generous.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice

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Scriabin: Complete Poèmes

Scriabin: Complete Poèmes


Scriabin:

Deux poèmes, Op. 32

Poème tragique Op. 34

Poeme satanique for Piano, Op.36

Poeme for Piano, Op.41

2 Poems for Piano, Op. 44

Feuillet d'album, Op. 45 No. 1

Poème fantasque in C major, Op. 45 No. 2

Scherzo for Piano in C major, Op. 46

Quasi Valse, Op. 47

Rêverie, Op. 49 No. 3

Fragilite, Op. 51, No. 1

Poème Aile, Op. 51 No. 3

Danse languide, Op. 51 No. 4

Trois Morceaux Op. 52

Ironies Op. 56 No. 2

Nuances, Op. 56 No. 3

Two Pieces, Op. 57

Albumblatt, Op. 58

Poème for piano, Op. 59 No. 1

Poème-Nocturne, Op. 61

2 Poems for Piano, Op. 63

Poèmes, Op. 69 Nos. 1 & 2

Deux poèmes Op. 71

Vers la flamme, Op. 72

Deux Danses Op. 73


For all of his short adult life, Alexander Scriabin wrote—or planned to write—monumental works of great import, and in between these efforts he produced a steady torrent of miniatures, tiny concentrated droplets of this same expansive genius. Fascinatingly, the composer’s designation ‘poème’ is applied both to ground-breaking symphonic perorations and to the extended series of thirty-four little piano pieces, written over more than a decade and often grouped into little sets. Their inspirations are as varied as their titles—from black magic to cosmic aspiration—and they offer a key into their composer’s inner world.

American pianist Garrick Ohlsson is an acknowledged master of the genre—astonished critical reaction to his recordings of Brahms, Granados and of course Chopin attest to this—and this new Scriabin recording will only enhance an admirable reputation.

“Ohlsson understands such obsessiveness as well as any pianist alive today, and what his performances occasionally lack in colour and variety they make up in effortless virtuosity and total musical command.” The Guardian, 5th February 2015 ****

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Scriabin - Complete Sonatas

Scriabin - Complete Sonatas


Scriabin:

Fantasy in B minor, Op. 28

Sonata-Fantaisie in G sharp minor (1886)

Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-10


'Hamelin rises to the challenges of this music with complete mastery. But his is more than a purely technical triumph (though the effortless of his playing has to be heard to be believed)' (BBC Music Magazine)

“Scriabin was an ambitious composer. A romantic alchemist, he saw his music as a transmuting agent. Through its influence pain would become happiness and hate become love, culminating in a phoenix-like rebirth of the universe.
With Shakespearian agility he would change the world's dross into 'something rich and strange'. Not surprisingly, given Scriabin's early prowess as a pianist, the 10 sonatas resonate with exoticism, ranging through the First Sonata's cries of despair, to the Second Sonata's Baltic Sea inspiration, the Third Sonata's 'states of being', the 'flight to a distant star' (No 4) and 'the emergence of mysterious forces' (No 5). Nos-7 and 9 are White and Black Mass Sonatas respectively, and the final sonatas blaze with trills symbolising an extra-terrestrial joy and incandescence.
Such music makes ferocious demands on the pianist's physical stamina and imaginative resource. However, Marc-André Hamelin takes everything in his stride. Blessed with rapier reflexes he nonchalantly resolves even the most outlandish difficulties. He launches the First Sonata's opening outcry like some gleaming trajectory and, throughout, his whistle-stop virtuosity is seemingly infallible.
You might, however, miss a greater sense of the music's Slavonic intensity, its colour and character; a finer awareness, for example, of the delirious poetry at the heart of the Second Sonata's whirling finale. Hamelin's sonority is most elegantly and precisely gauged but time and again his fluency (admittedly breathtaking) erases too much of the work's originality and regenerative force. However, he shows a greater sense of freedom in the Fifth Sonata, and in the opalescent fantasy of the later sonatas, he responds with more evocative skill to subjective terms, as well as to moments where Scriabin's brooding introspection is lit by sudden flashes of summer lightning.
The recordings are a little tight and airless in the bass and middle register, but the set does includes a superb essay on Scriabin.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Scriabin: The Complete Études

Scriabin: The Complete Études


Scriabin:

Étude Op. 2 No. 1 in C sharp minor

12 Etudes for piano, Op. 8

8 Etudes, Op. 42

Étude Op. 49 No. 1 in E flat major

Étude Op. 56 No. 4

Three Etudes Op. 65 (1911/1912)


Piers Lane (piano)

Piers Lane brings his admired technical bravura and innate musicality to Scriabin’s Complete Études. To listen to the complete Études as presented on this album is to hear the gradual but total transformation from within of Scriabin’s musical language from the earliest significant compositions to the final period. He began with a richly romantic and strongly emotional style centred on Chopin. After 1900 the texture and rhythmic structure of the music became increasingly intricate and fluid, while his sense of form grew ever more focused and concentrated. This provided the necessary balance to the overwhelmingly expressionistic, often erotic, urge in the musical material.

“Such virtuosity … deserves engineering of a high calibre and here we get it. Quite extraordinary clarity and wide-ranging tonal fidelity in a spacious recording which places the listener at an ideal distance in a warmly welcoming acoustic setting” Gramophone Magazine

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Scriabin: The Complete Préludes Volume 1

Scriabin: The Complete Préludes Volume 1

Opp 2-16


Scriabin:

Prelude, Op. 2 No. 2 in B major

Prelude, Op. 9 No. 1

12 Preludes Op. 11

Preludes, Op. 13 (6)

Preludes, Op. 15 (5)

Preludes, Op. 16 (5)


Piers Lane (piano)

Piers Lane’s performances of the complete Scriabin Préludes are bold and compelling, matching technical bravura with a rich vein of poetry and colour and communicating the composer’s vivid and exceptional imagination. Beautifully recorded and superbly annotated by Simon Nicholls, this set is a must for all lovers of Scriabin and the piano. The Préludes of Opp 17– 74 are available on CDH55451.

“Lane certainly knows how to tease out the music’s textural subtleties; his emotional commitment is undeniable, as is his grasp of the poetic/virtuosic dichotomy inherent in Scriabin’s music” BBC Music Magazine

“Lane’s flawless finger and inspired brain are totally attuned to Scriabin’s hyper-expressive sound world. Gorgeous, flattering sonics help elevate this recording to reference version status among complete Scriabin cycles. Bravo!” Classics Today

“To find contemporary performances that convey … aspects of the music more vividly and with greater sympathy, as well as with a good deal more technical refinement, one need look no further than Piers Lane’s recent traversal” International Record Review

“Lane is the perfect guide to Scriabin’s shimmering miniature masterpieces” The Independent

“Lane’s technical brilliance and assurance captures the most elusive qualities of this music, as one dream-vision dissolves into another … [his] control and balance of their veiled sonorities is wonder-filled” The Times

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Scriabin: The Complete Préludes Volume 2

Scriabin: The Complete Préludes Volume 2

Opp 17– 74


Scriabin:

Preludes, Op. 17 (7)

Preludes, Op. 22 (4)

Preludes, Op. 27 (2)

Preludes, Op. 31 (4)

Preludes, Op. 33 (4)

Preludes, Op. 37 (4)

Preludes, Op. 35 (3)

Preludes, Op. 39 (4)

Prelude, Op. 45 No. 3 in E flat major

Prelude, Op. 49 No. 2 in F major

Prelude, Op. 51 No. 2 in A minor

Prelude, Op. 56 No. 1 in E flat major

Prelude, Op. 59 No. 2

Preludes, Op. 67 (2)

Preludes, Op. 74 (5)


Piers Lane (piano)

Piers Lane’s performances of the complete Scriabin Préludes are bold and compelling, matching technical bravura with a rich vein of poetry and colour and communicating the composer’s vivid and exceptional imagination. Beautifully recorded and superbly annotated by Simon Nicholls, this set is a must for all lovers of Scriabin and the piano. The Préludes of Opp 2–16 are available on CDH55450.

“Lane certainly knows how to tease out the music’s textural subtleties; his emotional commitment is undeniable, as is his grasp of the poetic/virtuosic dichotomy inherent in Scriabin’s music” BBC Music Magazine

“Lane is the perfect guide to Scriabin’s shimmering miniature masterpieces” The Independent

“Lane’s technical brilliance and assurance captures the most elusive qualities of this music, as one dream-vision dissolves into another …[his] control and balance of their veiled sonorities is wonder-filled” The Times

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Rostropovich Encores

Rostropovich Encores


Chopin:

Étude Op. 25 No. 7 in C sharp minor

Debussy:

Nocturne et Scherzo

Préludes - Book 1: No. 12, Minstrels

Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamasque)

Nocturne et Scherzo

Popper:

Dance of the Elves, Op. 39

Prokofiev:

Cinderella, Op. 87: Adagio of Cinderella and the Prince

Cinderella: Waltz-Coda (transc. M. Rostropovich)

The Love for Three Oranges: March

Rachmaninov:

Oriental Dance, Op. 2 No. 2

Ravel:

Vocalise-étude en forme de habanera

Rostropovich:

Humoresque, Op. 5

Moderato

Scriabin:

Étude Op. 8 No. 11 in B flat minor

Sinding:

Suite for Violin & Orchestra, Op. 10 'im alten Stil': Presto

Stravinsky:

Le Baiser de la Fée: Pas de Deux

Chanson Russe


Alban Gerhardt (cello) & Markus Becker (piano)

Read our exclusive interview with Alban Gerhardt about Rostropovich and the art of the encore here.

For the young Alban Gerhardt, Rostropovich was ‘a reason to become passionate about the cello’: in the notes accompanying this release he recalls being ‘blown away’ on first hearing Slava play live in Berlin. This splendid follow-up to Casals Encores sees Gerhardt paying homage to his great predecessor with an eclectic programme of shorter works, including two by Rostropovich himself.

“A genuinely thoughtful and engaging tribute recital, and a compelling partner to the Casals.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2017

“[Gerhardt] matches [Rostropovich] note-for-note, with a degree of eye-watering finesse that would have surely made his hero smile. The same can be said for the mercurial moto perpetuo of Christian Singing’s Presto and the student Rostropovich’s own hilarious, gravity-defying Humoresque (a killer encore)” BBC Music Magazine, February 2017 *****

“Gerhardt’s is an especially apt homage, showcasing the Russian master’s commitment to expanding his instrument’s repertoire and popularity, at the same time as celebrating his sense of fun. It’s not a bad vehicle for the sparky Gerhardt and pianist Markus Becker, either.” The Guardian, 16th February 2017 ****

“Gerhardt is at his very best here, more than a match for his mentor, ably matched by Becker and with superb Hyperion sound.” Classical Music, July 2017 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2017

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Smörgasbord

Smörgasbord


Berkeley, L:

Andantino for Cello and Piano, Op. 21, No. 2a

Fauré:

Papillon, Op. 77

Godowsky:

Larghetto Lamentoso (from Twelve Impressions)

Grainger:

The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol

Hägg, J A:

Andante

Albumblatt

Halffter, E:

Habanera

(arr Maurice Gendron)

Jongen:

Valse, Op. 35

Habanera, Op. 86

Korngold:

Mummenschantz (Hornpipe) (from Much Ado About Nothing, Op. 11)

Romance Impromptu in E flat major, Op. post.

Kreisler:

Liebesleid

(arr Rachmaninov/Lidström)

Lidström:

The Sea of Flowers is Rising Higher (Elegy for solo cello)

Martinu:

Arabesque No. 1 (from Sept Arabesques)

Moeran:

Prelude

Montsalvatge:

Canción negra No. 5, Canto negro

(arr Mats Lidström)

Rameau:

Air vif: ‘Torture d'Alphise' (from Les Boréades, Act 4)

(arr Mats Lidström)

Scriabin:

Poème in F sharp major, Op. 32 No. 1

(arr Mats Lidström)

Romance in A minor

Sibelius:

Rondino (from Five Pieces, Op. 81)

Berceuse (No 6 of Six Pieces, Op. 79)

Stenhammar:

Adagio, Op. 20 No. 5

(arr Mats Lidström)

Tille:

Courante (from Le Tombeau de Rameau)

Tortelier:

Pishnetto (Recital Etude No. 5)


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Tchaikovsky & Scriabin - Piano Concertos

Tchaikovsky & Scriabin - Piano Concertos


Scriabin:

Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20

Tchaikovsky:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23


‘It is something of an achievement when one manages to hear afresh such an over-familiar work’ (BBC Music Magazine)

“Demidenko offers a blazing yet superbly-controlled account of the Tchaikovsky No. 1. And this is the best available version of Sciabin's youthful, Chopinesque Concerto.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2008 *****

“The chief attraction here is the unusual coupling which pairs two sharply opposed examples of Russian Romanticism, and although the reasons for the neglect of Scriabin's Piano Concerto aren't hard to fathom (its lyrical and decorative flights are essentially inward-looking), its haunting, bittersweet beauty, particularly in the central Andante, is hard to resist. Demidenko's own comments, quoted in the accompanying booklet, are scarcely less intense and individual than his performance: 'in the ambience, phrasing and cadence of his music we meet with a world almost without skin, a world of nerve-ends where the slightest contact can bring pain.' His playing soars quickly to meet the music's early passion head on, and in the first più mosso scherzando he accelerates to produce a brilliant lightening of mood. His flashing fortes in the Andante's second variation are as volatile as his pianissimos are starry and refined in the finale's period reminiscence, and although he might seem more tight-lipped, less expansive than Ashkenazy on Decca, he's arguably more dramatic and characterful. Demidenko's Tchaikovsky, too, finds him ferreting out and sifting through every texture, forever aiming at optimum clarity. While this is hardly among the greatest Tchaikovsky Firsts on record, it's often gripping and mesmeric. The recorded balance isn't always ideal and the piano sound is sometimes uncomfortably taut.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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The Early Scriabin

The Early Scriabin


Scriabin:

Piano Sonata in E flat minor (1887-89)

Waltz in F minor Op. 1

Valse in G sharp minor

Valse in D flat major

Variations sur un thème de Mlle Egoroff

Nocturne in A flat major (1884-86)

Nocturne in F sharp minor Op. 5 No. 1

Nocturne in A major Op. 5 No. 2

Nocturne in F sharp minor Op. 5 No. 1

Nocturne in A major Op. 5 No. 2

Sonata-Fantaisie in G sharp minor (1886)

Fugue in E minor (1892)

Canon in D minor

Mazurka in B minor

Mazurka in F major

Étude Op. 8 No. 12 in D sharp minor

second version

2 Pieces for the left hand, Op. 9

Allegro Appassionato Op. 4


‘A programme of fascinating rarities played with a touching sensitivity and affection … this record is a most impressive achievement, as beautiful in sound as it is endlessly thought-provoking’ (Gramophone)

“Coombs takes a revealing trek though Scriabin's early piano music. His graceful rather than fiery playing and inventive programme, including some genuine rarities, uncovers little explored facets of the composer's work.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2007 ****

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