Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
The Complete Mazurkas
Mazurka Op.Posth in F maj
Mazurka Op.Posth in B min
Ten Mazurkas Op.3
Nine Mazurkas Op.25
Two Mazurkas Op.40
Boris Bekhterev (piano)
rec. Japan, 22-24 January 2010
CAMERATA CMCD-28222 [68:03]

Scriabin’s mazurkas have suffered pitiful neglect over many years but more recently there have been just a few pianists willing to give an account of these well crafted and distinctive pieces.

It is difficult to realize that the Ten Mazurkas Op.3 is the work of a youth. The composer is already confident enough to play with tonality and go in search of a personal sonority. As the pieces on this CD are arranged in chronological order it is easy to see the germ of Scriabin’s tonal language emerging in these mazurkas. As we are often reminded, the musical language of his early works has its roots in Chopin but none of these pieces could ever have been penned by the latter. The mazurkas of Scriabin and Chopin may share certain characteristics but their musical souls are quite different.

Boris Bekhterev is no stranger to Scriabin’s musical world having already recorded some of the sonatas and a large number of smaller pieces with great success for Camerata (CAM28151 and CAM28131).

Here he presents the ever-changing moods of the Op.3 set with consummate skill and in No.4 (E maj) the voices in the contrapuntal writing are beautifully delineated. Scriabin played this mazurka at his final examination recital in the Little Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The recital was attended by Anton Rubinstein who was so taken by the piece that he took to the platform himself and improvised a series of variations on its theme. For many, this particular number has immediate appeal and in the sensitive hands of Boris Bekhterev it is not difficult to understand why.

The Nine Mazurkas Op.25 were composed between 1898 and 1899 during Scriabin’s professorship at the Moscow Conservatory. They show a considerable advance towards his later musical style. In No.4 (E maj) Bekhterev gets behind the emotional content to reveal inner ideas and makes the most of the notable harmonic elements and delightful modulations of No.9 (E flat min).

The Two Mazurkas Op.40 show great individuality. The first looks forward to Caresse Dansée Op.57 and is beautifully realized by the pianist here whilst in the second number the melody in the middle register is carefully phrased and well balanced.

Throughout this recording Boris Bekhterev shows the ability to bring the listener into his performance by creating the necessary tension through his sympathetic response to the numerous mood changes, whilst at the same time he reveals the poetical and emotional content of the pieces quite naturally. His attention to balance and phrasing along with well observed rubato make for polished and poetic performances.

Other pianists who offer the complete mazurkas on CD include Beatrice Long, Artur Pizarro and Eric Le Van. Long is less free in rhythm and not always in sympathy with the poetic character of the music. Le Van offers more poetry and emotion than Long in a better sound recording whilst Pizarro gives well articulated and thoughtful performances with a rounded piano tone.

However, Boris Bekhterev’s natural affinity and understanding of Scriabin shines through on every track of this CD which also has the added advantage of the best recorded piano sound.

Stuart Scott

Bekhterev’s natural affinity and understanding of Scriabin shines through.