Anthony Hewitt Plays Scriabin’s Complete Preludes

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LABELS: Champs Hill Records
WORKS: Complete Preludes
PERFORMER: Anthony Hewitt (piano)


Not since Gordon Fergus-Thompson’s outstanding Scriabin series for ASV has the other-worldly, deeply sensual aspects of this extraordinary music been brought so alluringly to life. Where other pianists have a tendency to play up the profound debt owed to Chopin in the earlier sets (Opp. 11–17), Anthony Hewitt looks forward to the psychedelic dreamworlds conjured by Scriabin’s later work. As a result, some may find the super-heated cut-and-thrust of the E flat minor Op. 14 No. 11, or the Appassionato No. 20 a shade underpowered. Yet whenever the music turns introspective (as many of the early preludes are), Hewitt sounds completely in his element, uncovering fresh layers of musical expression in even the most densely scored of poetic miniatures.

Scriabin’s sensitivity to musical colours (synaesthesia) had a profound impact on his musical thinking. His later piano works appear to move rapidly in and out of focus as though viewed through a continually refracting lens. This, combined with refined micro-pedalling, allows certain notes to be emphasised, sustained or magically cleared from the music’s hedonistic textures. Accordingly, the G major ‘Languido’ from Op. 39 has rarely floated so free of earthly constraints, as Hewitt creates the extraordinary impression of merely breathing on the keys. No less captivating is the ‘Poetico con delizio’ second prelude of the Op. 48 set and the opening Andante of Op. 67. Few would guess, listening to Hewitt’s cushioned sonorities in Op. 56 No. 1 and Op. 59 No. 2, that they are marked respectively ‘violent’ and ‘sauvage’, but turn to Op. 74 No. 2 and its ‘contemplatif’ nature is realised exquisitely.


Julian Haylock