WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 4; Piano Sonata No. 5; Piano Sonata No. 6; Piano Sonata No. 7; Piano Sonata No. 8; Piano Sonata No. 9; Piano Sonata No. 10; Fantaisie, Op. 28; Sonate-Fantaisie in G sharp minor
PERFORMER: Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67131/2 DDD
Along with Robert Szidon (mid-price DG, but on three discs), Marc-André Hamelin’s complete Scriabin sonata collection is the most complete available (Ashkenazy on Decca and Taub on Harmonia Mundi omit the Fantaisies), though it inexplicably places the early Sonate-Fantaisie at the very end of an otherwise chronological survey. Yet Scriabin’s ten sonatas, despite their modest length individually, are hardly a cycle of works to listen to from beginning to end, with their intense exploration of heightened emotion and their other-worldly theosophical associations.
Marc-André Hamelin rises to the challenges of this music with complete mastery. But his is more than a purely technical triumph (though the effortlessness of his playing has to be heard to be believed). Whether in the almost Brahmsian writing of Sonata No. 1, the heroicism of Nos 4 and 5, or in the visionary sound-world of No. 10, Hamelin draws the listener in through his acute shaping of every phrase and by achieving that almost impossible balance between languid, static ecstasy and momentous energy that characterises Scriabin’s mature music. Hyperion’s recorded sound is typically clean and warm. Matthew Rye