WORKS: Preludes, Opp. 11, 16 & 74; Poèmes, Op. 71; Vers la flamme; Danses, Op. 73
PERFORMER: Lucille Chung (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 416
Lucille Chung is a young Canadian pianist whose previous disc on this Italian label was of pieces by Ligeti. She plays Scriabin as it is written – an astute musician could almost take it down as dictation. This is a mistake, for Scriabin’s scores are only a guide to what you play, not what you hear. Here his music sounds clinical – there’s no magic. In addition, Chung uses very little arm weight, so that despite her agility, the heavier pieces sound underpowered. Just compare her thin sonority with the effortless bravura of Mikhail Pletnev in Op. 11/24 (Virgin). She also lacks Pletnev’s ear for colour, his perfumed delicacy, not to mention his flair for phrasing which is sometimes unexpected, but nearly always seductive.
By comparison, Piers Lane, who has recorded all 90 preludes, is a knight in shining armour, magnificently athletic while sensitive in a winsome little piece like Op. 11/17. Lane’s Scriabin (his disc of the complete Études is also a benchmark) is always fine, indeed noble, yet even he doesn’t convey either the visionary or mysterious aspects of the composer as well as his fellow Australian Roger Woodward in a selection of late piano works (Etcetera). Adrian Jack