Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 10; Sonata in E flat minor; Poème-nocturne, Op. 61; Vers la flamme

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COMPOSERS: Scriabin
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 10; Sonata in E flat minor; Poème-nocturne, Op. 61; Vers la flamme
PERFORMER: Bernd Glemser (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555368
Bernd Glemser has already recorded Scriabin’s Sonatas Nos 2, 5, 6, 7 and 9 for Naxos. The attraction of his second Scriabin disc is the early (1889) three-movement Sonata in E flat minor, which Marc-André Hamelin does not include in his boxed set of the ‘complete’ Sonatas for Hyperion. I actually prefer it to the Third Sonata, which seems uncharacteristically unsure of its emotional climate for Scriabin. The early Sonata is, perhaps, like Chopin filtered through Tchaikovsky (with a much more sophisticated command of keyboard virtuosity than the latter managed), yet identifiable as Scriabin, too, with its wistful middle movement and finale driven by the two hands galloping out of phase. Of the Third Glemser makes a good job – quite as good as Hamelin – though the first movement needs a bit more passion and the last a higher voltage – the sort of high-pressure performance delivered by Kissin. In the wonderful Tenth Sonata, Scriabin’s last, Glemser reveals the obsessive motivic construction extremely clearly. If that seems admirable, it is actually too rational for such irrational and static music (my adjectives are meant to be descriptive, not pejorative), and, strange to say, he seems to miss the climax – if it is a climax. For this work you need to listen to Arcady Volodos on his Carnegie Hall recital disc, in front of a miraculously silent audience. Volodos defrosts this music so that it becomes fluid, with a sound which is like black velvet. Adrian Jack

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