ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
ALEXANDER SCRIABIN - PRELUDES


ALEXANDER SCRIABIN - PRELUDES - VERS LA FLAMME - LUCILLE CHUNG (Piano) - DYNAMIC 416

Alexander Scriabin was a strange and unique Russian composer who lived from Dec. 25th 1871 to 1915. Although he composed some orchestral works, the majority of his creative output manifested itself on the piano, the instrument on which he himself was a virtuoso. His early works, like the "24 Preludes Op. 11" found on this disc, are very much like Chopin in style, but already display a unique, even mysterious harmonic structure that would develop over time and come to define Scriabin. He eventually came to believe that great art should be a merging of sounds, sights, colours, smells and sensations, in order to become a mystic experience, an ideology way ahead of it's time. He elevated music to a sort of religion, and composed some of his later works based on that principal, again using very personal and imaginative harmonics and giving extra-musical meaning to certain chords or harmonic progressions. A great example is "Vers la Flamme, Op. 72" (Towards the Light), also performed on this cd, in which the music itself seems to be moving forward and constantly searching for an answer.

I find the piano music of Scriabin to be the best combination of extreme difficulty, and extreme lyrical beauty. It demands work from the listener, but gives many rewards in return. Lucille Chung, a proponent of 20th century piano music, is up to the challenge in this natural sounding recording by Dynamic, and displays Scriabin's many facets very well.

Jean-Yves Duperron