Scriabin: Mazurkas (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Scriabin
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Mazurkas (complete)
PERFORMER: Artur Pizarro (piano)Artur Pizarro (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 13942 DDD
Scriabin’s early career developed along fairly orthodox lines. Born in Moscow in 1872, he entered the conservatoire there at the age of 16, studied theory with Taneyev and Arensky and piano with Tchaikovsky’s pupil Safonov, and embarked on a life as pianist and, for a time, professor. Stylistically his early works lean towards Chopin and Liszt, but in his thirties he became obsessed with mysticism and theosophy. Thereafter his harmony became increasingly wayward and chromatic, until eventually he devised his famous ‘mystic chord’ built up in fourths, perfect, augmented and diminished.

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His mazurkas (written in three groups in 1889, 1899 and 1902/3) are unaccountably neglected. A pity, for they are a touchstone of his gradually evolving harmonic style, displaying fastidious craftsmanship, and pleasant to listen to.

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Pizarro’s elastic rhythm in the first mazurka of Op. 3 is hardly the ‘Tempo giusto’ the composer asks for, and sometimes he lingers on a phrase a little too lovingly, but his shaping is refined, his rubato well judged, and his view encompasses both the rhetoric and the poetry. The piano tone is warm and vivid. For any who feel tempted to explore Scriabin’s music, this can be safely recommended as an agreeable introduction. Wadham Sutton