Janacek * Scriabin: Janacek Piano Sonata "1.X.1905

By Rucker, Patrick | Gramophone, November 2015 | Go to article overview

Janacek * Scriabin: Janacek Piano Sonata "1.X.1905


Rucker, Patrick, Gramophone


Janacek * Scriabin Janacek Piano Sonata "1.X.1905, From the Street'. On an Overgrown Path, Book 1 Scriabin Piano Sonatas--No 4, Op 30; No 5, Op 53. Poeme, Op 32 No 1. Vers la flamme, Op 72

Stephen Hough pf

Hyperion [F] CDA67895 (73' * DDD)

Stephen Hough's piano-playing always seems informed by a composer's instincts and sensibilities, attributes immediately discernible in his new recording combining Scriabin with two major works of Janacek, a composer 18 years Scriabin's senior, yet who outlived him by 13.

Out of this richly atmospheric performance of Book 1 of On an Overgrown Path, certain pieces emerge as almost cinematically graphic. One easily pictures eddies of autumn winds in 'A blown-away leaf or hears the voices of children in 'Come with us!'. The raw emotions of 'Unutterable anguish!' and the apprehension verging on fear of 'The barn owl has not flown away' are immediate and powerful. Within the scant 12 minutes of the Sonata 1.X.1905, a psychological drama of tragic import unfolds on what seems like an epic scale. The emotional nakedness and loving attention to detail recall the seminal Janacek recordings of Rudolf Firkusny.

The same probing, questing intelligence is brought to bear on the more conventionally virtuoso music of Scriabin. To music that all too often leaves one rudderless and gasping for air in wave after wave of opulently ambivalent harmony, Hough brings orientation and direction without sacrificing sensuality or mystical aura. …

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