Scriabin: Piano Concerto in F sharp minor; Prefatory Act to Mysterium

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COMPOSERS: Scriabin
LABELS: Triton
WORKS: Piano Concerto in F sharp minor; Prefatory Act to Mysterium
PERFORMER: Elena Kuznetsova (piano) Ostankino Radio Chorus, Russian State SO/Ivan Shpiller, Igor Golovchin
CATALOGUE NO: 17 001 (distr. Russian Disc)
That Scriabin moved an enormous musical distance in a mere 18 years is demonstrated by the two works on the Triton disc. The sub-Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto (1897) gives little inkling of the post-Romantic overload of the Prefatory Act to his unwritten Mysterium, a forty-minute reconstruction of the sketches for his mammoth last work by Alexander Nemtin. The latter goes on for too long in the overwrought idiom of Scriabin’s Prometheus, but it’s magnificently played in this live concert recording.

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Its conductor here, Igor Golovchin, is also taking the Moscow SO through the symphonies for Naxos. I welcomed the first disc last November, but this second instalment is a disappointment: in particular, with his slow tempi, Golovchin stultifies the languor and mystery of the Second Symphony’s first and third movements. The playing is less tidy than on the earlier disc, too.

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Ashkenazy’s performance of the symphony is almost ten minutes shorter, but never sounds rushed; the whole work is significantly better played and recorded. Ashkenazy’s own recording as soloist in the Piano Concerto has led the field since its release in the Seventies, but Jablonski’s characterful account proves a serious rival and is marvellously accompanied. Kuznetsova’s performance is a little raw by comparison, but there’s still plenty to enjoy there, too. Matthew Rye