Etudes Archive

SCRIABIN: Preludes, Etudes, Sonatas – Vadym Kholodenko, piano – Harmonia mundi 

SCRIABIN: Preludes, Etudes, Sonatas – Vadym Kholodenko, piano – Harmonia mundi 

SCRIABIN: Preludes, Etudes, Sonatas, and other works = 6 Preludes, Op. 13; 5 Preludes, Op. 16; Sonata No. 4, Op. 30; Sonata No. 5, Op. 53; Poeme tragique, Op. 34; Poeme satanique, Op. 36; Eight Etudes, Op. 42; Vers la flamme, Op. 72 – Vadym Kholodenko, piano – Harmonia mundi HMM 902255, 72:01 (7/13/18) [Dist. by PIAS] ****: Vadym Kholodenko (rec. 1 September 2017) celebrates Alexander Scriabin’s “imaginative, fantastic, musical world,” citing his teacher Vera Gornostaeva, with a diverse selection of “poems” which trace the iconoclastic composer’s evolution—via Chopin and Liszt—into a self-proclaimed visionary of light. A master of concision, Scriabin penned for the better part of a decade various series of “poemes,” distilled miniatures —some 34 of them—that, like the paintings of J.W.N. Turner, increasingly become infused with light; if they are indeed poetry, then their obvious kinship lies in William Blake. Scriabin conceived his sets of Preludes, Opp. 13 and 16 (1895), as extensions of his Op. 11 set, meant to complement his appreciation of the Chopin oeuvre, Op. 28. The opening C Major Prelude, Maestoso, from Op. 13 has a Lisztian cast, diatonic in harmony and moving in dotted rhythm as a march. The ensuing Allegro in […]

Four Pianos/Four Pieces = SCHUBERT: Wanderer-Fantasie; CHOPIN: Etudes, Op. 10; LISZT: Réminiscences de Don Juan; STRAVINSKY: Petruchka – Alexander Melnikov, pianos – Harmonia mundi

Four Pianos/Four Pieces = SCHUBERT: Wanderer-Fantasie; CHOPIN: Etudes, Op. 10; LISZT: Réminiscences de Don Juan; STRAVINSKY: Petruchka – Alexander Melnikov, pianos – Harmonia mundi

Four Pianos/Four Pieces = SCHUBERT: Wanderer-Fantasie in C Major, D. 760; CHOPIN: 12 Etudes, Op. 10; LISZT: Reminiscences de Don Juan, S. 418; STRAVINSKY: Trois Mouvements de Petruchka – Alexander Melnikov, pianos – Harmonia mundi HMM 902299, 79:34 (3/9/18) ****: Alexander Melnikov addresses four keyboard works in terms of their contemporary instruments, and the results often astound. Recorded October 2016-July 2017, these performances realize a project conceived by pianist Alexander Melnikov to select four significant keyboard works and to play them on instruments contextually relevant to the cultural milieu. The opening 1822 Wanderer Fantasy of Franz Schubert Melnikov realizes on an instrument by Alois Graf (c. 1828-1835), which permits Melnikov—even in spite of six and one half octave range—astonishing resonance and pungency, given the sheer technical virtuosity and sonority of acoustical motion the piece requires. The pounding opening bars pay homage to Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, while the later melodic tissue derives from Schubert’s own song—so spiritually endemic of the Romantic Age—Der Wanderer. The single-movement structure, subdividing into four sections, becomes a Schubert trademark, eventually spawning likenesses in Liszt’s b minor Sonata and the string sextet Verklaerte Nacht of Schoenberg. The lyrical transitions into E Major and E-flat Major occur with […]

SCRIABIN: The Ten Piano Sonatas; Fantasy in b – Garrick Ohlsson, p. – Bridge (2-CDs)

SCRIABIN: The Ten Piano Sonatas; Fantasy in b – Garrick Ohlsson, p. – Bridge (2-CDs)

Garrick Ohlsson surveys the whole of the Scriabin sonata cycle. SCRIABIN: The Ten Piano Sonatas; Fantasy in b minor, Op. 28 – Garrick Ohlsson, p. – Bridge 9468A/B (2-CDs) (12/9/16) 76:23, 71:23 [Distr. by Albany] ****: Having met and interviewed pianist Garrick Ohlsson (b. 1948), I find him to be somewhat eccentric in his musical tastes, his having excoriated Schumann as a composer too self-involved and self-referencing, but turning to the even more solipsistic Alexander Scriabin as a source of musical enlightenment.  [But then they were all three a bit off mentally speaking, Scriabin included…Ed.] The Scriabin sonata-cycle (rec. 27-29 August 2014; 21-23 April 2015; and May 2015), embraces a musical progression between 1892-1913, tracing an arch Romantic’s response to Chopin and Liszt and evolving a personal sense of rapture that, like the paintings of J.W.N. Turner, become ever infused with light and a desire for a compressed moment of spiritual radiance. The First Sonata in F Minor, Op. 6 bears a stentorian, aggressive cast, especially as it rages against Scriabin’s own physical limits set by an accident to his right hand caused by excessive practice – curiously, a Schumann experience. Gloomy and reflexive, the general mood looks to the […]

CHOPIN: Etudes Op. 10 Nos. 4, 10, and 11; Etudes Op. 25 Nos. 5, 8, 11, and 12; Ballades Op. 23, 38, 47, and 52; Nocturne No. 1; Nocturne No. 2; Polonaise No. 7, “Polonaise-fantaisie” – Sviatoslav Richter, p. – Praga DigitalsRAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit; Piano Concerto in G; Valses nobles et sentimentales; DEBUSSY: Children’s Corner – Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, p. – Praga Digitals

CHOPIN: Etudes Op. 10 Nos. 4, 10, and 11; Etudes Op. 25 Nos. 5, 8, 11, and 12; Ballades Op. 23, 38, 47, and 52; Nocturne No. 1; Nocturne No. 2; Polonaise No. 7, “Polonaise-fantaisie” – Sviatoslav Richter, p. – Praga DigitalsRAVEL: Gaspard de la nuit; Piano Concerto in G; Valses nobles et sentimentales; DEBUSSY: Children’s Corner – Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, p. – Praga Digitals

Both of these recordings offer valuable insights into the artistry of legendary pianists. For me, though, the Richter is a far more appealing artifact. (Note: these are SACDs.)