The history of Scriabin’s piano music is like a condensed history of piano music, for his style changed perhaps more than any other composer during his life. It has been said that young Scriabin kept Chopin’s music under his pillow, and the early Preludes and Mazurkas certainly breathe the same heightened air of ardour and yearning. His journey from the traditional tonal harmony of these Chopinesque beginnings to his atonal ‘Mystic chord’ (based on fourths) is, however, a masterfully smooth one, best appreciated when taking the sum of his work into account.
Born in 1947, long resident in London as a professor at the Royal College of Music, Dmitri Alexeev entered the Moscow Conservatory at six years of age. A string of EMI recordings in the 80s established his reputation worldwide, but they included scant representation of one of his most ardent passions, the music of Scriabin, beyond the concertante Prometheus conducted by Riccardo Muti. Alexeev’s touch emulates the contemporary accounts of Scriabin’s own playing, which did not rely on power because of his slight build. Rather, he ‘captivated the listener through his ability to enhance his sound with an extraordinary range and gradation of colour…his fingers seemingly plucked the sound from the piano keys…as if his hands flew over the keyboard barely touching it.’
Made between 2008 and 2019 in London and in the purpose-built Music Room at Champs Hill, home to many superlative modern chamber-music albums, these recordings won broad critical acclaim on their original publication. Their reissue at super-budget price makes an obvious first port of call for any listener looking to immerse themselves in the rich, heady world of Scriabin’s piano writing. ‘I would not be surprised to hear that Alexeev kept scores of Scriabin under his pillow. He brings a lifetime of experience to this music… Alexeev can summon all of the requisite technical prowess, power and excitement to bring off the large works in a manner befitting their extroverted style… As a miniaturist, Alexeev brings exceptional poetry and nuance to each little piece… Alexeev should be considered among the great Scriabin interpreters.’ Fanfare, September 2021
‘Alexeev’s temperamental affinity… comes paired with sovereign command of colours and intonations… He never deviates into aggression or superficiality, conveying instead an overall impression of humane dignity and a powerful sense of journey.’ Gramophone, March 2019
New recordings of the complete Scriabin (1872-1915) piano works are rare, and rightly so, only the greatest have the insight, abilities and guts to explore the cosmic and metaphysic world of these 20th century masterworks. Dmitri Alexeev is such an artist: equipped with a formidable technique he immerses himself in the hyper individualistic style of the eccentric Russian, delving deeply, to get to the bottom of such pieces like the “Black Mass” sonata, or its spiritual opposite, the “White Mass” sonata. This 8-CD set presents a fascinating journey, starting from the romantic, Chopin-inspired early works, towards the later works, written in the unique “Scriabinesque” atonal language, inspired by his theosophical ideas, and megalomaniac metaphysics.
Includes the complete Sonatas, Preludes, Mazurkas, Studies, Poèmes and other short pieces.
The release of the separate issues was met with unanimous enthusiastic reviews, 5 stars in Diapason, Fono Forum, Luister, Gramophone and other magazines. “He emphasizes the music’s lyrical beauty without sacrificing energy or forward mobility…few recordings are so intrinsically beautiful as Alexeev’s.” Jed Distler on Classicstoday.com.