Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kun Woo Paik Plays Scriabin

Although there's no statement as such to be found on either the booklet cover or the outer case, this is in fact the second volume in Kun Woo Paik's recordings of the complete piano music of Scriabin. By my reckoning that means that we have no less than four complete surveys of the piano music under way at present — Joseph Villa (Dante), Gordon Fergus-Thompson (ASV), Kun Woo Paik (Dante again !) and Donna Amato (Altarus — see below). Scriabin enthusiasts, it seems, have never had it so good! As far as this recording is concerned however I'm afraid it's another case of a very capable performer being let down by the recording engineers — all I can say about this is that if you like your seat in the auditorium to be that of the page-turner then this will probably be to your liking. I am also mystified by the choice of instrument — a 1926 Steinway ''D'' Concert Grand ; an instrument that has certainly seen better days, and one which gives this 1991 digital recording a distinctly 'historical' ambience — was this thrust upon Paik or is it his own instrument ? All of this seems to me to be a great shame, as underneath the poor recording and poor choice of instrument there's an extremely fine pianist trying to get out.
Despite some less than subtle dynamic shaping and balancing of inner parts (which may or may not be the by-products of the recording or instrument) Paik gives a particularly fine performance of the Second Sonata. Not, perhaps, in the same class as Demidenko's account on Conifer, but nevertheless an extremely persuasive and authoritative one. Paik is inclined to paint with broader brush strokes than Demidenko, contrasting more sharply the lyrical and declamatory aspects of the material. Demidenko on the other hand is super-smooth, creating a greater sense of flow and movement. This is also the case in the Presto second movement, where Paik gives a much more volcanic and agitated though far less thrilling reading than Demidenko. Turning to the Op. 11 Preludes we find Paik particularly well suited to their constantly changing moods and we glimpse at times (recording permitting) the quality that prompted Tim Page of The New York Times to describe Paik as ''a master colorist''.
Incidentally, the track listing for these includes the year and location of the composition for each Prelude, which I thought was a particularly helpful inclusion when one considers that the order of the set does not reflect the date of composition—they were written over a seven-year period. I wasn't entirely convinced by the Poeme satanique, partly I think because Paik seems less than comfortable with it himself; cast (unusually for Scriabin) in the Listizian 'Mephisto' style it seems strangely out of place in his output—the composer described it as his ''apotheosis of insincerity'' and in an ironical sort of way he was probably right. Fine performances of the Three Etudes, Op. 65 and a particularly probing and imaginative account of the Tenth Sonata only add to the regret that this pianist has not been heard in the best possible light.'

Source :

Kun Woo Paik
Alexander Scriabin


Piano Sonata n° 2 in G-Sharp minor, Op. 19
1 Andante  9:29
2 Presto  3:58

Preludes Op. 11
3 N° 1. Vivace  0:51
(Moscou 1895)
4 N° 2. Allegretto  2:25
(Moscou 1893)
5 N° 3. Vivo
Alexander Scriabin  0:48
(Heidelberg 1893)
6 N° 4. Lento  1:58
(Moscou 1888)
7 N° 5. Andante cantabile  1:25
(Amsterdam 1896)
8 N° 6. Allegro  0:40
(Kiew 1889)
9 N° 7. Allegro assai  1:10
(Moscou 1895)
10 N° 8. Allegro agitato  2:22
(Paris 1896)
11 N° 9. Andante  1:36
(Moscou 1895)
12 N° 10. Andantino  1:20
(Moscou 1894)
13 N° 11. Allegro assai  2:04
(Moscou 1895)
14 N° 12. Andante  1:30
(Vitznau 1895)
15 N° 13. Lento  1:35
(Moscou 1895)
16 N° 14. Presto  0:57
(Dresden 1895)
17 N° 15. Lento  2:56
(Moscou 1893)
18 N° 16. Misterioso  2:36
(Moscou 1895)
19 N° 17. Allegretto  0:47
(Vitznau 1895)
20 N° 18. Allegro agitato  0:51
(Vitznau 1895)
21 N° 19. Affetuoso  1:41
(Heidelberg 1895)
22 N° 20. Appassionato  1:13
(Moscou 1895)
23 N° 21. Andante  1:38
(Moscou 1895)
24 N° 22. Lento  1:12
(Paris 1896)
25 N° 23. Vivo  0:30
(Vitznau 1895)
26 N° 24. Presto  0:51
(Heidelberg 1895)

27 Poème satanique for piano in C major, Op. 36  8:10

Etudes Op. 65
28 N° 1. Allegro fantastico  3:29
29 N° 2. Allegretto  2:39
30 N° 3. Molto vivace  1:48

31 Piano Sonata n° 10, Op. 70  13:56


Kun Woo Paik - p

Recorded 1991 ?


Melanchthon said...

BachRocks44 said...

Many thanks!

nlrp said...

...merci mr. Mel. nlrp