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Scriabin: The Complete Piano Sonatas Vol 2 / Boris Berman


Release Date: 09/1990 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 621   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Boris Berman
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

When the first volume of sonatas turned up (Music and Arts CD-605, Fanfare 13:5), Richard Taruskin wrote of Berman that, “Born and raised in the one country where Scriabin is as securely ensconced in the Pantheon as Bach or Beethoven, he believes in the music the way Sofronitsky did, the way Horowitz did, the way you will after you've heard him. ...“ Indeed, in the complete traversal sweeps—Ponti, Laredo, Taub—Berman's most consistent competition comes from Ashkenazy (London 425 579-2, two silver discs), who, needless to say, shares Berman's distinctions. In fact, heard after other pianists, Berman and Ashkenazy seem remarkably at one in their view of Scriabin and in their effortless projection of it—even their timings are often identical ! Read more Within this basic similarity, however, one may say that Berman favors a voluptuously febrile approach, couched in veiled, bass-rich, pedal-held sound (abetted by a lushly resonant acoustic), while Ashkenazy opts for an almost crystalline (though seldom dry) clarity, crisper articulation, and brighter color. In the later sonatas, with their incantatory repetitions flaring into great washes of sonority, Ashkenazy's larger, more pointed climaxes bring these hallucinatory soundscapes into sharper focus, though Berman s accarezzevole touch and cumulative power awaken the music's daimonic eroticism with an hypnotic sureness scanted in Ashkenazy's patrician brilliance.

Both are high-voltage players, though neither quite matches Horowitz for sheer nervous energy, sinister intimations, trembling-on-the-verge spellbinding, eruptive grandeur, or overall éclat— though we are close: if Horowitz overwhelms, Ashkenazy compels, while Berman seduces. It is only fair to add that Ashkenazy recorded his cycle over a period of years, going back to 1975, where Berman committed his to the microphone in a matter of days—a staggering achievement. As noted, Music and Arts's aural perspective, while immediate and detailed, favors the bass. James E. Baker's extensive notes are a decided bonus, though his placement of Scriabin in the cultural history of his time and place will probably amount to obscurum per obscurius for most readers, to whom the likes of Solovyov, Balmont, lvanov, Baltrushaitis, Gippius, et al., are unlikely to be even superficially as familiar as the also named Nietzsche, Rudolf Steiner, and Madame Blavatsky. Hearing the sonatas together is one of music's great adventures, and Berman, aside from being an astounding pianist, is also gifted with that touch of the psychopomp which enables him to convey us unerringly to the heart of Scriabin's mystery. Enthusiastically recommended.

-- Adrian Corleonis, FANFARE [9/1991] Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Piano no 6, Op. 62 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Boris Berman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Russia 
Venue:  SUNY Purchase, New York 
Length: 11 Minutes 54 Secs. 
2. Sonata for Piano no 7 in F sharp major, Op. 64 "White Mass" by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Boris Berman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Russia 
Venue:  SUNY Purchase, New York 
Length: 10 Minutes 52 Secs. 
3. Sonata for Piano no 8, Op. 66 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Boris Berman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; Russia 
Venue:  SUNY Purchase, New York 
Length: 13 Minutes 13 Secs. 
4. Sonata for Piano no 9 in F major, Op. 68 "Black Mass" by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Boris Berman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; Russia 
Venue:  SUNY Purchase, New York 
Length: 8 Minutes 52 Secs. 
5. Sonata for Piano no 10, Op. 70 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Boris Berman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Russia 
Venue:  SUNY Purchase, New York 
Length: 13 Minutes 34 Secs. 

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