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4.2.06

Dip Your Ears, No. 52

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A. Scriabin, Symphonies, R. Muti/Philadelphia
Scriabin is not in the first rank of composers - but at the very least his piano sonatas are fairly well known and reasonably popular. There is certainly no dearth of good recordings, our favorite currently being Håkon Austbø’s – perhaps in part because of his excellent presentation at the Hirshhorn last September. His symphonies are not exactly obscure – but neither as well known as they should be. That’s a shame, because they are – all three – wonderful works. Symphony No. 1 is an audacious work of a 28-year-old composer, who based it on no less a work than Beethoven’s Ninth. It is in six movements and employs vocal soloists and choir in the last. If it should somehow not be a great symphony, it’s certainly a greatly entertaining one, with plenty of sweep and grandeur – enjoyable at every listen. Ricardo Muti’s EMI recording of all the symphonies has just been re-released by Brilliant. In the first, just like in symphonies nos. 2 and 3 (with its ecstatic climax), his Philadelphia forces play with the utmost of polish and urgency; two qualities that seem more pertinent in these works than the less pronounced elements of abandon and raw drive might bring. Coupled with Le Poème de l’Extase and Prométhée – two 20-minute one-movement works that are sometimes considered the fourth and fifth symphonies – the set offers stunning sound. Dmitri Alexeev plays the piano in Prométhée. Even with the EMI set or Ashkenazy’s Decca “Trio” (which includes the Piano Concerto) acquaintance with these works has always been affordable. But with the super-budget Brilliant box it now stands that you cannot afford not to get acquainted with them.

Brilliant 92744

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