- Sorry, this item is not available in
- Image not available
- To view this video download Flash Player
|Listen Instantly with||Album|
|Other Formats & Versions||Amazon Price||New from||Used from|
Having listened to this new release from pianist Xiayin Wang, I simply cannot imagine how or why I have managed to avoid Scriabin's solo piano aeuvre for so long. The music here, and Wang's playing of it are of an exquisite beauty beyond description. There is no need to recap Wang's biography or credentials; Peter J. Rabinowitz interviewed her for a feature article and review in 31:3. The three Scriabin pieces on the Marquis CD reviewed by Rabinowitz--the Deux Poèmes, op. 32, the Waltz, op. 38, and Vers la flamme, op. 72--are duplicated on the present Naxos album.
Wang presents her program in opus number order, which happens to correspond to the chronology as well. As one listens to Scriabin's progress from his early Waltz, op. 1, written in 1886 to his Two Dances, op. 73, written in 1914, the year before his death at the age of 43, one is reminded to an extent of Heinrich Heine's skewering of French Romantic poet and playwright Alfred de Musset, calling him "a young man with a great future behind him." Scriabin's earliest pieces--waltzes, nocturnes, preludes, polonaises, etudes, and mazurkas--mirror Chopin with uncanny similitude. By 1903, considered a dividing point in the composer's life and the beginning of his middle period, we get works like the Poème tragique, op. 34, and the Poème satanique, op. 36. Scriabin's writing is now on a grander scale, taking on a more symphonic weight, with the heavy chording and kinds of keyboard figurations more typical of Liszt and even Alkan.
By the time we get to the end--the Two Dances, op. 73--Scriabin, physically ill and most likely mentally unstable, is now totally consumed by mysticism, theosophy, and his theories of synesthesia (color hearing) in which specific keys and tonal centers are related to specific colors and corresponding emotional states. His never realized final opus magnum, Mysterium, was to be "a multimedia work to be performed in the Himalayas that would bring about Armageddon, a grandiose religious synthesis of all arts which would herald the birth of a new world."
Scriabin's late piano pieces written around this time sound almost impressionistic, but not in a way that would be mistaken for Debussy. They are economical in material, built from minimal, somewhat static motifs, but quite extravagant in technical and expressive range. Vers la flamme is a good example. It's almost minimalist in its dependence on a single motivic gesture; but through cumulative piling on of keyboard sonorities rather than variation techniques, Scriabin maximizes its potential.
Pianist Xiayin Wang seems to have a very special affinity for Scriabin's music. But then she is not alone in being a proponent of these works. Both Ashkenazy for Decca and even earlier, Michael Ponti for Vox, essayed much of this repertoire. Ruth Laredo also made a significant contribution on Nonesuch, and Richter was by no means a stranger to Scriabin either. Still, there is something I find very appealing in Wang's playing. Her tone has a silvery quality to it, a lighter touch perhaps, that allows her to negotiate the more thunderous and tumultuous passages without sounding overly thick and heavy; and her approach in the quieter more lyrical pieces strikes me as quite poetic.
A beautiful recital by an up-and-coming young artist, captured in excellent sound by Naxos's recording team. Highly recommended. -- Fanfare, Jerry Dubbins, Nov/Dec 2009