WORKS: Preludes, Op. 22, 27, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 48, 67, 74; Impromptus, Op. 7, 10 & 2/3; Two Pieces, Op. 57
PERFORMER: Gordon Fergus-Thompson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DCA 1096
This, the second volume of Gordon Fergus-Thompson’s survey of Scriabin’s 90 preludes, takes us from 1897 to 1914, from the last vestiges of Chopiniana in the composer’s piano-writing to the heady, perfumed aura of his late works. The 41 pieces here, none of which lasts more than about two and a half minutes, convey a surprisingly coherent sense of progression when played end-to-end, and the ebb and flow of emotions and moods provide constant interest and insight into the composer’s harmonic development over those 17 years. The only jarring moment is the sudden return at the end of the recital to some early impromptus, which have the feeling of fillers.
Fergus-Thompson is alive to every nuance of Scriabin’s piano-writing; he’s particularly successful in drawing out the music’s limpidity by casting a subtle veil over the instrument’s tone. He can also be dramatic, capturing Scriabin’s particular kind of fiery, rhythmic ecstasy. Piers Lane, in his complete cycle of the preludes for Hyperion, is perhaps more overtly emotional as an interpreter, but some occasional splashy figuration just denies his two-disc set benchmark status. For a seductive survey of this later half of the series, then, this new disc makes an admirable first choice. Matthew Rye