Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good but not outstanding, 27 Mar 2009
This review is from: Scriabin: Complete Symphonies / Piano Concerto, etc. (Audio CD)
This is a good set to start with if you are not familiar with Scriabin's major orchestral works, as it offers very balanced and at the same time strong performance of each work. But for serious collectors, this may not stand repeated listening. I find Ashkenazy's artistry as a pianist is technically solid and orthodox, but nothing more - his textbook approach always fails to live up to the hight of the masters like Richter, Gilels or Rubinstein. That is also reflected on his artistry as a conductor. He basically ticks all boxes and delivers fine performances, but after repeated listening and comparison with other conductors, one realises there's something missing in these performances - the transcendental quality to lift the music to higher realm, which is so essential to Scriabin's music.

Muti's EMI recordings of the three symphonies and Poem of Ecstasy easily surpass Ashkenazy's accounts, for its overwhelming grandeur and opulence of orchestral colours. Pletnev's DG and Svetlanov's BBC Legend versions of Poem of Ecstasy too makes Ashkenazy's reading tame in comparison. Jablonski plays Piano Concerto brilliantly but can not surpass the sublime performance by Demidenko, which received Gramorphon Award in 90s. Richter plays Prometheus (virtually Scriabin's second piano concerto) with stunning command and concentration, conducted by Svetlanov in his usual uncompromising style (Russian Disc).This is a good set to start with if you are not familiar with Scriabin's major orchestral works, as it offers very balanced and at the same time strong performance of each work. But for serious collectors, this may not stand repeated listening. I find Ashkenazy's artistry as a pianist is technically solid and orthodox, but nothing more - his textbook approach always fails to live up to the hight of the masters like Richter, Gilels or Rubinstein. That is also reflected on his artistry as a conductor. He basically ticks all boxes and delivers fine performances, but after repeated listening and comparison with other conductors, one realises there's something missing in these performances - the transcendental quality to lift the music to higher realm, which is so essential to Scriabin's music.

Muti's EMI recordings of the three symphonies and Poem of Ecstasy easily surpass Ashkenazy's accounts, for its overwhelming grandeur and opulence of orchestral colours. Pletnev's DG and Svetlanov's BBC Legend versions of Poem of Ecstasy too makes Ashkenazy's reading tame in comparison. Jablonski plays Piano Concerto brilliantly but can not surpass the sublime performance by Demidenko, which received Gramorphon Award in 90s. Richter plays Prometheus (virtually Scriabin's second piano concerto) with stunning command and concentration, conducted by Svetlanov in his usual uncompromising style (Russian Disc).
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Nov 2012 07:00:57 GMT
Octave says:
Thanks much for your temperate review, especially for recommendation of alternatives; I regret that I'm probably going to have to hold my breath for a reissue of Muti's orchestral works recordings, as I vaguely remember that you once gave those the golden laurels. (Both editions, EMI/Brilliant, seem to be OOP and a bit expensive now.)

I wonder if there are a short list of other Scriabin recordings to which you'd give highest praise? I almost exclusively know the piano music, and not much of it (Lettberg's collected works, a smattering of Horowitz on Sony, and some Sofronitzky [in that Brilliant 9cd box]); any further recommendations of that or other orchestral recordings would be appreciated (if indeed there are any that approach or surpass the Muti).

Posted on 10 Nov 2012 07:09:33 GMT
Octave says:
A second question, S: the Richter/Svetlanov CONCERTO that you mention, do you think it is the one that will be included in the forthcoming 4cd from Melodiya, here:
Scriabin: Symphonic Works
And do you know the other recordings in that collection, assuming it's even clear which ones they'll be?
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