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Etudes Complete

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 10, 1997
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 10, 1997)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000014CX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,259 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The Scriabin Etudes are his opus numbers 8, 42, 65, plus opus 2 #1, opus 49 #1, and opus 56 #4. They come from all phases of his composing career and are worthy of comparison with the Etudes of Scriabin's predecessors, Chopin and Liszt. Like the Etudes of Chopin and Liszt, these works are technically very demanding, but Scriabin is not so much concerned with the development and display of specific aspects of technique as with exploring a range of moods and colors.
Alexander Paley, who was born in Moldavia in 1956, brings to these varied works a calm and even-tempered approach. Although these are certainly virtuoso showpieces, Paley does not use this opportunity to show off. These are inner-directed and contemplative performances. This is not to fault his technique in any way - the demands of the music are surely met and dealt with. It is, however, in definite contrast to other artists who have recorded these works; for example, Vladimir Horowitz, who uses this material in a more self-indulgent manner.
Complete recorded sets of the Scriabin Etudes are hard if not impossible to find. Richter has recorded some of the opus 42, Morton Estrin the complete opus 42, and many other pianists including the composer have recorded excerpts. The Scriabin recording is currently on a Harmonia Mundi compact disc entitled "Scriabine and the Scriabinians" and the sound quality suggests that this could be a piano roll and not an acoustic recording from 1910. Scriabin's presentation of his opus 8 number 12 is one long stream of notes, a rush, a flood, a surrender to a wave of sound. No other performer treats the music in quite this way. The notes themselves seem secondary, sacrificed to a larger scheme in masses of sonority.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The world was changing fast. Composers were catching up with the limits of tonality, but Skryabin was pointing a way to an almost contrapuntal, modern, overlapping, layered tonality that--like Bach--didn't work if you looked at it in vertical freeze-frame, but only worked in motion. Most of his harmonic progression was very traditional, the cadences simply never reached what the ears expected at the time they expected it. When this finger arrives at the note, those fingers are already on to something else. He hit the limit and careened off into a sonic landscape as foreign as the theories of science of his time (1890s-1910s), but unlike many of the more theoretical composers, his was based on an intense emotional perception, and it worked even when you did not "understand" it.
There is much to be learned from S. as we approach the centenary of his later works, but few are exploring him. Paley should be commended for doing so, and I recommend his CD. If for no other reason, it should be in everyone's library as historical reference for where Russian (and all Western) music had arrived before Soviet politics completely reshaped the Czar's culture into Tractor Sonatas, Factory Fugues, and Welder Waltzes. (ok, Shostakovitch was great, but... never mind) In Skryabin, we can hear not only the intelligently and beautifully maxed-out evolution of Chopin, but also the anticipation of what would later be some light-hearted Hollywood styles. Indeed, many of the early Hollywood composers were Russian emigres. Just as has happened in the past 100 years, this music broke free of many tonal restrictions, but remained tonal to the ears. S's Etudes are often simple, childlike tunes laid in a swirling stream of notes within which each line had a destiny of its own, and somehow they all worked together.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a much-needed addition to the woefully small catalogue of Scriabin recordings. The Etudes are presented in chronological order, which makes it convenient to track Scriabin's development as a composer (the Etudes span almost the whole range of his career). The performer, Alexander Paley, has become known as a definitive perfomer of the Russian repertoire and this disc illustrates why. He is technically brilliant (good thing, for these pieces!), but I sometimes find his style to be needlessly aggressive, which makes this a difficult disc to listen to straight-through. That is a minor quibble, however. Any fan of classical piano needs this disc.
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