Magazine article Gramophone

Scriabin: Complete Piano Sonatas

Magazine article Gramophone

Scriabin: Complete Piano Sonatas

Article excerpt

Scriabin

Complete Piano Sonatas

Vincenzo Maltempo pf

Piano Classics (F) (2) PCL10168 (134' * DDD)

'Be careful with Scriabin's music; don't go too far or you might end up losing your sanity.' So a teacher once warned me. On the other hand, don't go far enough and you'll have no real Scriabin experience at all. Certainly the psychedelic journey through the 10 piano sonatas deserves a trigger warning or two. So I fastened my seatbelt and prepared to be whisked away on a magical mystery tour by Vincenzo Maltempo. Alas, it never really took off. Maltempo has an excellent command of the instrument and is responsive to the multi-dimensional texture and complex harmonies of the music. But for the mind-altering Scriabin potion to work, it has to come with a higher dose of individualism and risk.

Already with the early sonatas it's clear that Maltempo is no match for existing recordings. The upheavals and protests of No 1, for instance, have far greater dramatic charge in Norma Fisher's BBC recording, and Maltempo's caution in the funeral-march finale pales before the earth-shattering Lazar Berman. The Second Sonata's volatile poetry finds more perceptive advocates in Yevgeny Sudbin (BIS, 12/07) and Hakon Austbo. Austbo's Fourth is also far more playful and flirtatious in the first movement, leading to a true 'flight of liberation' towards the 'flamboyant sun of triumph', as Scriabin put it. Despite his considerable elan at the start of the Prestissimo volando, Maltempo doesn't approach the ecstasy and abundance that come naturally to Gilels, Sofronitsky and, more recently, Hamelin. …

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