“Tockà” – SCRIABIN: Sonata No. 2; Fantasy in b minor; Prelude in g minor; RACHMANINOFF: Sonata No. 2 in b-flat minor – Gunilla Süssmann, piano – NMA

by | Mar 12, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

“Tockà” – SCRIABIN: Sonata No. 2; Fantasy in b minor; Prelude in g minor; RACHMANINOFF: Sonata No. 2 in b-flat minor – Gunilla Süssmann, piano – NMA 4, 47:42 **** (www.musik.no):

NMA is small Norwegian label, and if this one CD is any indication, one with the highest standards of both performance and sonics. Pianist Süssmann was recently heard on Naxos as one of the two pianists in Geirr Tveit’s Two Piano Concerto. She also received the New Performer of the Year Award in Norway in 2004. Not only is she a beautiful pianist – in both senses of that word – but she clearly also experiences synesthesia: the crossing over of the senses. She says she can taste the sounds and smell the colors, but usually the ability is concentrated on seeing various colors as music is played or heard.

No, the album title is not a Swedish nickname for a cute girl, as I initially had thought. The overall title of her first recording is a Russian word meaning Longing or Desire. The word fits the particular works at hand from both Russian composers. Süssman found the music of Scriabin early on to fit perfectly with her visions of color. (After all, he invented the color organ.)  His Second Sonata is one of her favorites because of its uniquely searching quality, and his building ecstatic climaxes which for her scatter color and light.  Süssman’s is a white-hot interpretation of this work, which may be closer to the Chopin-influenced period of Scriabin’s career but clearly enters into the mystical area of this later works.  The two Scriabin encores are also well-played.

The pianist chose the Rachmaninoff Second Sonata because she feels it also displays an unbounded longing for something which can never be attained. The mood is not as mystical/spiritual as Scriabin but is certainly emotional and super-Romantic in style.  Süssman throws herself headlong into the music and delivers a more exciting rendition than most, with cleanly-delivered keyboard runs that are sometimes smudged by others.  The piano tone is superbly captured – as good as some SACDs to my ears, and with tremendously extended dynamics.

– John Sunier

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