Scriabin: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Poem of Ecstasy; Piano Concerto; Prometheus; Rêverie

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Scriabin
LABELS: RCA
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Poem of Ecstasy; Piano Concerto; Prometheus; Rêverie
PERFORMER: Frankfurt RSO/Dmitri Kitaenko
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 20297 2 ADD
On the surface these performances sound most impressive. True, there’s some poorly synchronised chording, and brass entries are sometimes fractionally late, but there are stretches of considerable textural clarity (the Poem of Ecstasy is particularly rich in these) and, in the Third Symphony, at least one gripping coup de théâtre (CD 3, track 2, the few bars from 8:54 mins). The First Symphony is gloriously presented, with soloists and chorus in splendid voice in the final Hymn to Art.

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It’s when you follow with the score that the deficiencies are apparent – oscillating semiquaver figures on the strings which totally lack definition (as at the start of the Second Symphony), important wind dialogue lost behind the too-closely-miked piano in the Concerto, and general laxity about dynamics. Kitaenko’s pp is at about the level of most people’s mf, and he tends to peak too early in Scriabin’s carefully graduated crescendi. By the time the passage reaches fff (or ffff!) climax, Kitaenko has usually been there for some time.

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There are better recordings of most of these works (Ashkenazy and Maazel in the Piano Concerto, Sinopoli in the Third Symphony), but if you put the scores aside there’s a good deal to enjoy. Wadham Sutton