Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roberto Szidon Plays Scriabin

These classic Szidon recordings dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s must surely have won many a listener over to this enigmatic and fascinating composer. Their brief life-span in the catalogue (apart from the appearance of Sonatas n° 7-10 in DG's mid-price Collector's series in the 1980s) was long lamented by many a Scriabin enthusiast who had either discovered this addictive composer after the set's demise, or whose original recordings were in dire need of replacement. Their reappearance on CD could not be more timely ; Scriabin's music is enjoying a considerable revival at present with more recordings of his music in The Classical Catalogue than ever before. Of course on the down side this means that Szidon's set re-enters the catalogue at a time when the competition is particularly great. Personal reservations regarding these discs almost exclusively concern Sonatas n° 1-4, where the superior sound-quality of the CD medium has tended to emphasize the rather brittle and tinny piano sound of the 1968 recordings. Sonatas n° 7-10, on the other hand, were recorded in 1971 and can still be regarded as some of the finest on disc.
Sonata n° 1 : A dramatic and highly charged account of this youthful and impetuous outburst against life, God, the universe and everything. Szidon is one of the few pianists to observe the first movement repeat. By far the most convincing and compelling n° 1 on disc.
Sonata n° 2 : A somewhat underpowered performance which, though not without either beauty or delicacy, still falls some way short of the sheer bravura and 'tingle factor' of Demidenko's performance for Conifer.
Sonata n° 3 : Fares better than n° 2, but again the more recent accounts from Graham Scott (Gamut) and Gordon Fergus-Thompson (ASV) ultimately put Szidon out of contention.
Fantaisie in B minor, Op. 28 : The only available recording at present of this much neglected and immensely likeable work (who can fail to succumb to the haunting and beguiling second theme ?). An exceptionally passionate and virtuosic performance.
Sonata n° 4 : Szidon's idiosyncratic account of this Icarus-like piece is disappointing. No fear of flying to close to the sun here as we never really get airborne to start with!
Sonata n° 5 : A fairly spacious account of Scriabin's most frequently performed Sonata, with some impressive playing gracing the opening and closing sections. However, Richter's classic DG recording of 1983 remains unimpeachable.
Sonata n° 6 : A truly malevolent piece of music. Szidon gives us a chilling performance-when Scriabin writes l'epouvante surgit ("the frightening rises up") that's exactly what he gets. Scriabin was apparently scared of this work and never performed it in public. Best listened to in a darkened room.
Sonata n° 7 ("White Mass") : Scriabin saw this Sonata as an antitoxin for the venom of n° 6. Some antidote! Szidon whips the music into an orgiastic frenzy of sound that culminates in a climax that's guaranteed to blow your socks off.
Sonata n° 8 : The least well-known of the late sonatas. It also poses the greatest interpretative problems. Ashkenazy's Decca recording remains first choice.
Sonata n° 9 ("Black Mass") : Scriabin's friend Alexei Podgaetsky was responsible for the subtitle "Black Mass". Scriabin actually regarded parts of it as "saintly". There are several fine performances available, but this powerful reading remains a personal favourite. Sonata n° 10 : One of the most extraordinary sonatas to have emerged in the early part of this century. Scriabin described it as "a sonata of insects. Insects are born from the sun, they are the sun's kisses". Szidon's performance is exceptionally fine.
Also included in the set are the early Chopinesque works, the Sonate-fantaisie of 1886 and the Sonata in E-Flat minor of 1887-89. These are something of a culture shock heard directly after the Tenth Sonata, but their rarity value adds all the more to the attractiveness of this highly recommendable reissue.
M.S., Gramophone [4/1992] 

Source : http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=390401

Roberto Szidon
Alexander Scriabin

The Complete Piano Sonatas


Cd. 1

Piano Sonata n° 1 in F minor, Op. 6
1 I. Allegro con fuoco  10:00
2 II. (without tempo marking)  6:19
3 III. Presto  3:23
4 IV. Funèbre  6:32

Piano Sonata n° 2 in G-Sharp minor ("Sonata-Fantasy"), Op. 19
5 I. Andante  7:58
6 II. Presto  3:49

Piano Sonata n° 3 in F-Sharp minor ("Etats d'âme"), Op. 23
7 I. Drammatico  7:23
8 II. Allegretto  2:14
9 III. Andante - attacca  4:54
10 IV. Presto con fuoco - Maestoso  6:01


Cd. 2

1 Fantaisie for piano in B minor, Op. 28  9:36

Piano Sonata n° 4 in F-Sharp major, Op. 30
2 I. Andante  3:22
3 II. Prestissimo volando  5:04

4 Piano Sonata n° 5 in F-Sharp major, Op. 53  13:05

5 Piano Sonata n° 6, Op. 62  11:34

6 Piano Sonata n° 7 ("White Mass"), Op. 64  13:37


Cd. 3

1 Piano Sonata n° 8, Op. 66  14:36

2 Piano Sonata n° 9 ("Black Mass"), Op. 68  9:57

3 Piano Sonata n° 10 ("Trill"), Op. 70  13:45

4 Sonata-fantasie in G minor  8:14

Piano Sonata in E-Flat minor
5 I. Allegro appassionato  7:42
6 II. (Andantino) - attacca  6:41
7 III. Presto  4:26


Roberto Szidon - p

Recorded at Plenarsaal der Akademie der Wissenschaften ; Mûnchen, Residenz, Germany ; September 1868 ; April, August & October 1970 ; & January 1971


Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Thanks a lot, Mel
My best regards

theblueamos said...

Never enough Scriabin.Thanks from Jerusalem.

Péter Makai said...

Many thanks, Mel!

Melanchthon said...


L'Idiot said...

Thank very much.

nlrp said...

merci beaucoup. nlrp

alfred venison said...

i remember not getting this as a kid. many thanks for making it available again. -a.v.