A year before Scriabin died Kiril Kondrashin was born in Moscow, the city
of Scriabin's birth. Kondrashin has a reputation similar in some ways to
Evgeny Mravinsky. His recordings are not plenteous but what there is is often
worth having. His recording (available on BMG-Melodiya) of Rachmaninov's
Symphonic Dances is the only one to have though its age is beginning to tell.
Scriabin wrote three symphonies of which the mult-movement first is worthy
of reassessment. Scriabin has a reputation for being a bit of a bore with
his prolix approach to the loftiest ideals. Anyone wanting an antidote to
this should listen to the 1894 piano concerto - a superbly tuneful and romantic
work which would appeal to anyone who enjoys the Tchaikovsky first piano
concerto, the Saint-Saens concertos or the Palmgren works.
The symphony dates from the same year as Bartók's Kossuth, Holbrooke's
The Bells, Paderewski's symphony (recently recorded by Hyperion), Sibelius'
Violin Concerto, Elgar's Second and Delius' Sea Drift.
The orchestra is as expansive as Scriabin's programme is ambitious: eight
horns, five trumpets, two harps, four flutes and so on.
The first movement: features a surging tune of Elgarian bearing and resolute
heroism (17:01). The shades of Tchaikovskian ballet music also waltz spectrally
through the pages offset by a liquid-toned hieratic trumpet which more than
once reminded me of Khachaturyans Adagio from Spartacus.
Voluptes is a sensuous movement full of attractive touches. At 9:00 on track
2 the gentle calling of the horns registers touchingly and the solo violin
evokes images of a dream of abandoned dionysian pleasure. The orchestral
palette is once again Tchaikovskian.
The third movement 'Jeu Divin' is Scriabin's vision of man giving himself
completely to sensual joys and finding an apotheosis. From the pointedly
sprightly trumpet calls to the overblown exalted climaxes you are never in
doubt about Scr8abin's belief in his mission.
This is a live concert recording as the occasional cough testifies. The sound
has some depth and the typical advantages of a concert recording are evident
here in the sense of occasion.
At just over three quarters of an hour the disc does not offer best value
as playing time.
There used to be a BBC CD of the same work conducted byJohn Pritchard but
one of the best sets around is the complete cycle conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov.
Perhaps BMG-Melodiya will release this one. I hope so. I never warmed to
the Philips Inbal/Frankfurt RSO set but other Scriabin collections by Muti
and Ashkenazy are worth hearing.
The performance of the third symphony by Kondrashin is founded on a committed
interpretation but which does not entirely overcome doubts about the work
itself. Still there is much to enjoy here if you appreciate headily indulgent