Scriabin: Études (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Scriabin
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Études (complete)
PERFORMER: Alexander Paley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553070
Scriabin’s twenty-six études are studies in the poetic tradition of Chopin. They are music first, technical exercises second, even though many of them home in on a particular feature. The last three concentrate on certain intervals. The rather wild programme notes describe the first of this set as ‘a punishing workout, requiring the right hand to hammer out chromatic scales of major ninths’, though Scriabin marks it pianissimo. Alexander Paley doesn’t, in fact, ‘hammer’, though he’s not as featherlight as he should be. Technique is not his problem, but he’s short on inspiration, fire, imagination. After all, Scriabin’s études are, in terms of emotion, some of the richest pieces in existence. The very first, a moody essay in Russian gloom and a popular favourite, seems pale here, and the study on track four, which Scriabin marked Tempestoso, sounds like hard work rather than passionate. Yet there’s plenty of good playing, including the twirling, flighty third Étude of Op. 42, once recorded with razor-like definition by Horowitz. Piers Lane on Hyperion is a clear preference for the complete Scriabin études, but at bargain-price, this offers reliable performances, cleanly recorded. Adrian Jack

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