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Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
24 Preludes, Op.11 [31.02]
6 Preludes, Op.13 [8.04]
5 Preludes, Op.15 [6.46]
5 Preludes, Op.16 [8.30]
7 Preludes, Op.17 [9.20]
Javier Negrín (piano)
rec. Teatro Leal, La Laguna, Spain, 13-15 February 2012
ODRADEK 855317 003059 [63.48]

This disc handily assembles the complete Scriabin ‘Travel Preludes’ written during the early years of the composer’s life between 1888 and 1896 but mainly in the latter two years. It was written during his tours of Europe giving solo piano recitals. The scores indicate the places and dates of composition at the end of each piece. As such they are almost entirely free of the mysticism and sheer waywardness of the composer’s later works, reflecting more the Chopinesque atmosphere of his early Piano Concerto and the first two Piano Sonatas. Most of the individual pieces are very short indeed; of the 47 tracks on this disc, thirteen are under a minute in duration and only five last more than two minutes. As such they have hardly time to establish themselves before they are over, leaving one with a slightly unsatisfied feeling. There are occasional little harmonic quirks which identify the composer who would write the later sonatas, but otherwise this is music designed to charm an audience rather than send it into ecstasies.
 
This is however the only recording in the current catalogue to give us all the ‘Travel Preludes’ other than as part of multi-disc surveys either of the complete Preludes or compendiums of the complete Scriabin piano music. As such it has a unique value, particularly for those who already have recordings of the more characteristically Scriabinesque later works and may not wish to duplicate these. Javier Negrín is a good guide to the music, and plays with plenty of panache; he is recorded in a lively and resonant acoustic, and the piano is kept at just the right distance.
 
By the time he came to write the Op.17 Preludes in late 1896 there is increasing evidence of the individual Scriabin; the score indicates many accelerandi and ritenuti showing with great exactitude the precise amount of rubato which he wanted in performances, although oddly enough he gives remarkably few indications for pedalling. Negrín carefully follows the composer’s detailed instructions, and adds a number of personal touches which always sound totally idiomatic.
 
This may not be essential Scriabin, but it is enjoyable even though the succession of brief morsels may induce indigestion if consumed all at once. I found it best to listen to each set of Preludes individually, allowing them to work their undeniable charms in small doses.  

Paul Corfield Godfrey

 

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