SCRIABIN: Piano Music, opus 65-74.

SCRIABIN: Trois Etudes, op. 65; Sonata No.8, op. 66; Deux Preludes, op. 67; Sonata No.9, “Black Mass,” op. 68; Deux Poemes, op. 69; Sonata No. 10, op. 70; Deux Poemes, op. 71; Vers la flamme, op. 72; Deux Danses, op. 73; Cinq Preludes, op. 74. Mikhail Rudy, piano. CALLIOPE–CAL 9692 [ADD]; 69:53. Produced by Jacques Le Calve and Georges Kisselhoff.

This is a recent CD reissue of recordings that originally appeared on LP about ten years ago. Included are Scriabin’s last ten works, completed during the final four years of his relatively brief life (1872-1915). By this time the composer had developed an idiosyncratic language–perhaps influenced to some extent by Debussy–that was capable of articulating the highly rarefied sensations and images that preoccupied him toward the end of his life. This was an eerie, haunted, highly intuitive internal world, far removed from the conventional romantic and late-romantic pian is tic languages that had served him only a few years earlier. (It is important to remember that Scriabin’s extraordinary stylistic evolution took place during a compositional career lasting barely 25 years.) Despite the common–though rapidly disappearing–impression of Scriabin as an egocentric oddball whose music appealed primarily to “soft-headed” tastes, performances that meet its technical and interpretive demands reveal a visionary eloquence rendered to the highest artistic standards through impeccable mastery of both pianistic craftsmanship and compositional technique, as well as through the exercise of keen intuitive judgment. Furthermore, unlike so many other compositional extremists–Alkan and Sorabji come to mind in this context–Scriabin’s distinctive flights of fancy adhere sufficiently to formal and temporal norms to be susceptible to understanding and appreciation without undue preparation or effort.

In reviewing the original issue of this recording in Fanfare 6:2 (p. 217), Royal Brown asserted that Mikhail Rudy “gets to the heart of the Scriabin style,” although he questioned whether the pianist adhered closely enough to the composer’s dynamics. I find that while perhaps not demonstrating the most searching and penetrating depth of understanding, Rudy provides musically intelligent, stylistically knowledgable, pianisticallyassured, and altogether satisfying renditions of this extraordinarily demanding music. For me, the neat chronological ordering of the program is an additional plus, placing the more-of ten-played works in the revealing context of others rarely heard. All in all, this is one of the most valuable recorded collections of late Scriabin.