This Scriabin set is one of the finer offerings in Universal's Trio series. Vladimir Ashkenazy's crisp phrasing and lean orchestral sonorities contrast markedly with the lush appointments of Riccardo Muti's cycle, which relies heavily on the voluptuous sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra to make its effect. In this regard Muti scores over Ashkenazy in the First symphony, where the Russian conductor's crisp, no-nonsense approach sounds comparatively restrained (especially the highly emotive second movement). But the tables turn in Symphony No. 2. Here Ashkenazy's clarity and focus give much needed shape and rhythmic definition to this music, which tends to meander in Muti's hands. The finale is a perfect example: muscle with Ashkenazy; mush with Muti.
Marking 100 years since his death, this is the first ever set of SCRIABIN COMPLETE WORKS. Drawn principally from Decca’s distinguished catalogue, the set also features no fewer than 64 newly-recorded tracks - over 200 mins of music, newly recorded by Vladimir Ashkenazy and Valentina Lisitsa especially for this set.
In this first volume of Alexander Scriabin's symphonies on the LSO Live label, Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra begin in media res with the Symphony No. 3, "Le Divin Poème," and the Le Poème de l'extase, which is unofficially counted as the Symphony No. 4. These works date from Scriabin's middle period (ca. 1902-1908), which marks a transition from his youthful Romantic phase to his final visionary works. The Symphony No. 3 reflects a lingering attachment to the symphonic conventions which influenced Scriabin's first two symphonies, particularly in its three-movement structure and relatively clear tonal scheme, though it already hints at the organic development and greater harmonic complexity of the single-movement Le Poème de l'extase, which strains the boundaries of form and key. These effusive works demand a calculated control that may seem at odds with their volatile and languorous expressions, though Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra deliver the music with rhythmic precision and focused tone colors to bring across Scriabin's kaleidoscopic soundworld with brilliance.
As a composer of orchestral music, Alexander Scriabin is best known for his last two idiosyncratic symphonies, the Poem of Ecstasy and Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, which are essentially symphonic poems, not symphonies in the conventional sense. The Symphony No. 1 (1900) and the Symphony No. 2 (1901), however, are more recognizable as symphonies in their multiple-movement forms, and their durations are comparable to the expansive symphonies of Scriabin's contemporary, Gustav Mahler. They also share the post-Romantic tendency toward Wagnerian harmonies, rhapsodic melodies, and lush orchestration, which, in Scriabin's case, were developed to express heightened emotional states and mystical transcendence. This 2016 double SACD by Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra presents each of the symphonies on its own disc, and the high-quality multichannel sound is ideal for bringing across the subtle nuances of tone color and the shifting of dynamics that are characteristic of his style.]