Kirov Orchestra (Gergiev) – ‘Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 Pathetique’ A DVD-Audio review by Mark Jordan

January 11, in Artists, Titles

Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathйtique Symphony’ is music that can save your life. Unfortunately, it didn’t save Tchaikovsky’s. Just a week after the first performance, he was dead, probably by self-induced poisoning, though controversy has swirled around that hypothesis ever since. Whatever the truth, this piece is as soul-searching a work as has ever been written, closing with a dark, slow fade out at the end. It speaks so directly to the heart that it has become a beloved cornerstone of the classical repertory. Philips’ recent DVD-Audio release of Valery Gergiev’s 1995 recording of this work puts it in strong competition with the many fine versions of this piece released in the last seventy years, and leaves it as the best current surround sound choice.

Valery Gergiev has become a high-profile conductor in recent years on the strength of his passionate volatility, not to mention his workaholic schedule leading a huge number of concerts per year. In a way, Gergiev has been a breath of fresh air for those who have grown bored with the cut-and-dried objective school of conducting which dominated the second half of the twentieth century. Here in the new century, change is in the air, and performances that have a personal investment are becoming prized in our increasingly anonymous, corporate world. Thus, Gergiev’s buckets of personality are always welcome, even if they occasionally slosh out and make a mess (as in parts of his recent ‘Rite of Spring’). But what is perhaps most remarkable about this performance is its lack of grandstanding. One expecting a trademark white-knuckle ride won’t be disappointed by the middle of the first movement, or by all of the third movement march. But the dominant tone of this performance is one of intimacy. Never has a Gergiev performance sounded so warm and lovable. I was expecting something along the lines of a wayward Mravinsky (see below for comparisons), but instead we get far more warmth than the stone-faced Mravinsky offers, without things ever becoming sentimental or maudlin. Indeed, Gergiev is masterful in the way he achieves tenderness without overloading the music. Though offering plenty of emotional variety throughout the performance, Gergiev saves his full intensity for the final climax of the work, just before the dark trombone chorale that sets the stage for the final fade. Gergiev makes it clear that this climax – and absolutely no other – is the turning point of the work. The only thing that could have been better about this climax would have been a little more snarl from the muted horns, which get partially covered up by the bassoons and low clarinets.

Going back to the very beginning of the symphony, Gergiev doesn’t try to make the opening ‘Adagio’ introduction an extra slow movement, and he edges his way into the ‘allegro’, gradually picking up speed, as Tchaikovsky’s score suggests. The composer knew what he was doing, for that approach makes the two sections fit together, and conductors who don’t follow it do so at their own peril. Levine, for instance, sounds like he’s conducting two different pieces: His introduction is very slow and each arching phrase is lingered over in a most solemn manner. Then the allegro abruptly starts in a manner that could almost be described as light-hearted, it is so buoyant and crisp. Even Pletnev overdoes the contrast in tempos. I much prefer Gergiev’s way of keeping his eye on the overall shape of the piece. Of course this is ironic, for most of the time conductors like Levine and Pletnev are known for their architectural assurance, and Gergiev is the one who jumps off the path into side details, but not this time around. The famous second theme of the first movement is phrased freely by Gergiev, with unpredictable surges. The Kirov Orchestra has played for years with Gergiev, though, and they follow him fearlessly without any missteps.

Though the Kirov strings aren’t quite up there with the most glowing ensembles, they acquit themselves admirably in the 5/4 time waltz movement. Gergiev manages the not inconsiderable feat of keeping the movement fleet-footed, while at the same time twirling with a lovely, longing grace. The third movement finds Gergiev moving along at a gloriously quick clip, and his orchestra never lags behind. The rhythmic spring of this march in Gergiev’s hands is worth the price of the disc alone.

The recording was made in the Mikaeli Hall in Finland. It sounds like a fairly intimate hall, but the intimate sound certainly plays to Gergiev’s advantage. The stereo track is 48kHz 20-bit and the 5.1 DVD-Audio program is in 44.1kHz/16-bit resolution, so it is not as visceral as many of the current high-resolution recordings being made, but it is still quite handsome, and it is a definite notch above regular CD sound. The biggest advantage is the sorting of textures. Listening to the stereo mix (or to the original CD release) leaves some of the details blurred, but the three-dimensional spacing of the DVD-A mix helps sort out the lines, especially in such places as the take-no-prisoners pace that Gergiev sets in the third movement. The Dolby Digital encoded mix serves as an alternative surround program for those with a home theatre surround speaker set up but with DVD players that don’t play DVD-A, but it is considerably more synthetic sounding than the true DVD-A mix, which has a good natural feel. The rear channels are not overdone as they are in some older recordings adapted for surround presentation. They serve here to define the soundstage without drawing much attention to themselves. But in switching back to the stereo mix, it becomes obvious how much more three-dimensional and clear the DVD-A surround is. Part of the warmth of the recording may come from the Jaap de Jong vacuum tube equipment used for making the recording. Whatever the case, it scores easily over any of the early digital recordings, and helps Gergiev’s release score some sonic points that it wouldn’t in regular CD stereo.

But to see how Gergiev’s musical approach works, let’s turn to some notable past recordings. First we’ll visit the other Russian conductors. One of the most impressive recordings from the objective school of thought is the early 1970’s recording by the great Jascha Horenstein and the London Symphony (most recently seen on Royal Classics). It demonstrates the difference between a passionate but objective approach, and the by-the-numbers sort of read-through that gives objectivism a bad name. Here, one can sense an explosive emotion smoldering beneath the surface, only fleetingly exposed at critical moments. Horenstein concentrates on the musical coherence of the work, highlighting voice leadings from instrument to instrument that most conductors never notice. He is especially adept at counter pointing trumpet versus lower brass in the first movement to make their lines a musical dialogue, whereas the usual performances ignore the trumpets and have the lower brass blare away coarsely. Horenstein’s elegance allows a very poised trajectory through the side-step waltz of Tchaikovsky’s 5/4 meter. The third movement march is played for poise and character instead of power, thus it manages to sound fresh, even if it doesn’t build to quite the climax it could. Horenstein’s finale is again reserved, arguably finding the through-line a little too efficiently. Gergiev cuts to the heart of the finale, by comparison, achieving a greater emotional punch, but without hamming it up, either.

One lesser-known performance that I have kept at hand in recent years is the Pope Music recording of the Russian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Gorenstein. Gorenstein is a protйgй of the late Evgeny Svetlanov. Gorenstein played in the violin section of Svetlanov’s USSR (now Russian) State Academic Symphony Orchestra before he took up conducting. His latter career has flourished and one certainly hopes to hear more of him in the west in coming years. Gorenstein doesn’t hesitate to turn up the emotional heat, although he remains a degree cooler than Gergiev. Gorenstein understates the angst in the middle of the second movement and concentrates instead on a flow buoyed by rich, plush string sound, captured beautifully in Gene Pope’s minimally miked recording. Indeed, considering the notorious quality of Melodiya’s state-subsidized recordings from the Soviet years (the Rozhdestvensky Shostakovich ‘Eighth’ wins the dubious prize for most disastrous engineering to ever mar a great performance), Pope’s series of recordings in Russia were some of the first audiophile recordings ever made in Russia. Especially felicitous (though controversial) is Gorenstein’s decision in the third movement to underplay the weight and power of the march and concentrate instead on speed and manic detail, only unleashing the full weight of the orchestra in the final chords of the movement. Gorenstein really comes into his own in the finale, where the rich strings are soaked deep with an almost palpable despair. The recording comes coupled with a performance of ‘Francesca da Rimini’ that is equally fine.

The long-standing champion of Russian conductors of this work was Evgeny Mravinsky, whose tight reins on the emotion of the work make even Horenstein seem gushing. Mravinsky was as severe a classicist as they come, but it translates in his ‘Pathйtique’ on Deutsche Grammophon into a rivetingly intense experience. In many works, Mravinsky’s dour grip strangled the life out of the music, but here that grip is clearly grappling with a downright volcanic surge of emotion, and the tension is quite unlike any other performance. To a certain degree, Mikhail Pletnev’s Tchaikovsky follows Mravinsky’s mould, but the special frisson of Mravinsky remains unrepeatable. DG’s remastered sound for the Mravinsky is decent. (There is also an earlier mono recording which I have not heard.) The limitations of the early stereo recording cannot greatly compromise the whip-crack power of the performance, though. For those unacquainted with the traditional “old Russian” sound which Mravinsky preserved in his ensemble for most of the fifty years he was its music director, the sourness of oboe tone and the vibrato-laden horns take some getting used to. Comparison to Gorenstein’s much more recent recording shows that such timbres have now been mostly supplanted in Russia by a modern corporate sheen. If the playing is now more secure and truer in intonation, it is also less memorable in personality. All of which makes Mravinsky’s recording that much more valuable.

One of the great ‘Pathйtiques’ of modern times is the recording Mikhail Pletnev made with the Russian National Orchestra on Virgin Classics. Pletnev has been a well-known pianist for many years, but this was his first recording as a conductor, and it was a stunning debut. Arguably, some of his subsequent performances have proven vulnerable to the charge of over-efficiency, but in this recording, his control went hand-in-hand with a killer instinct for finding the lifeblood of the ‘Pathйtique’. Pletnev achieves a frenzy of intensity in the development of the first movement that alone would make his performance essential. The good thing is that the rest of the performance is on the same intense level. Anyone who finds Mravinsky too pressured would be well-advised to steer clear of Pletnev, because he clearly follows in that mould, albeit not quite as clipped.

Another Russian-trained conductor who followed in Mravinsky’s lead (in fact, he was an assistant to Mravinsky for some years) is the great Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons, who recorded a wonderful cycle of the Tchaikovsky symphonies with the Oslo Philharmonic for Chandos. If Pletnev carries the torch of Mravinsky’s dark explosiveness, Jansons carries on his nervous energy. Jansons’ performance sounds consistently fresh, with every phrase alive with animation. Jansons achieves reasonable intensity, but with a lighter touch than his former boss. For those who want the frisson of Mravinsky with a less dour severity, Jansons is the ideal choice, captured in atmospheric sound from Chandos that still holds up well after two decades.

Other effective Russian recordings have included a dramatic, romantic recording from Semyon Bychkov and the Concertgebouw Orchestra on Philips, which features an explosive first movement and a slow, plangent finale. Vladimir Ashkenazy recorded an openly heart-felt recording in the 1980’s with the Philharmonia on Decca. And last, but not least, there were a couple of recordings of the work by Evgeny Svetlanov, that are of more than passing interest. Indeed, Svetlanov’s stern hand could be seen as a significant influence on both the Gorenstein and Pletnev recordings.

A recent contribution from Finland finds the Helsinki Philharmonic being led in a controversial performance by young conductor Mikko Franck. Franck takes risks that exaggerate some passages and cause the music to break down into episodes, thus losing the overall sweep of the work. For instance, Franck’s twenty-one minute timing in the first movement is mostly accumulated in the second theme, as well as in the emotional breakdown that happens in the recapitulation, just before the return of the slow theme. And the last return of the march theme in the third movement includes a rather unconvincing slow down from an already broad tempo, the sort of thing which Jean Martinon did much more effectively in his 1968 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic on Decca (and which both Furtwдngler and Dorбti do not-so-effectively in their recordings). Many will also be put off by Franck’s fourteen minute finale, nearly five minutes slower than then norm. So, to be sure, it is an extreme performance, and Franck even states in a note in the program booklet that his is an intensely personal vision of the work, redolent for him of youthful hospital stays for severe health problems. But despite the missteps this young firebrand makes, he also shows signs of enormous personality and courage. Instead of dishing out the same old rote gestures, Franck is searching for that which makes this music as emotionally potent now as it was to Tchaikovsky when he wrote it. Such enterprise is warmly encouraged, for as Franck’s experience grows, it could turn him into a fascinating conductor.

French conductors have varied in their approaches to this music, often combining elements of the various approaches. Pierre Monteux led an early stereo recording with the Boston Symphony for RCA, which has recently appeared on RCA’s “Living Stereo” series on Super Audio Compact Disc. Frankly, though, I was a bit surprised to see that recording picked, when Monteux’s best Tchaikovsky with the BSO (both in terms of performance and sound) were the later recordings of the ‘Fourth’ and ‘Fifth Symphonies’. I have not heard the SACD release yet, but Monteux’s reserved performance never quite catches fire to the degree that the finest performances do, and thus it really isn’t a serious rival to Gergiev’s release.

One central European conductor who recorded this piece numerous times was Eugene Ormandy. His reputation has suffered in recent years, as his image tends to present him as something of an Arthur Fiedler for snobs. There can be something a little bland and all-purpose to many of his interpretations, and he was generally regarded as more of a pleasant conductor than a deep one. But he had his specialties, and Tchaikovsky was one of them. I know of at least four commercial recordings that Ormandy made of the work. The earliest, and in many ways my favorite, is the monophonic Columbia recording. It is his most energetic performance, maintaining urgency throughout. In the early 1960’s, Ormandy remade the work for Columbia in stereo, and that recording has rarely been out of the catalogue since. It is rich and effective, and indeed has become the mainstream benchmark for the work, as it bridges the gap between Russian and German styles. The 1968 RCA recording is not greatly different from the stereo Columbia, except that it is a little more spaciously recorded. His final remake of the work (and one of his very final recordings) was made in the early 1980’s by Delos, around the time he retired as conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It remains very similar to the others, except that in places it does seem to chug along on autopilot, and Delos’ recording from Philadelphia’s Academy of Music accurately shows the shortcomings of the dry hall.

A similar cooling off over the years happened to Herbert von Karajan, and, like Ormandy, this symphony was one of his warhorses. I know of at least five Karajan recordings. The earliest I’ve heard is a live performance from 1950 with Karajan at his fiery youthful best. Fortunately, his two analogue stereo recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic largely preserve his early incandescence. The first movement is deftly argued, with an almost operatic lyricism to solo instrumental lines. He does show a tendency to attenuate phrasing in the strings here and there, but that at least supports the ebb and flow of Tchaikovsky’s orchestral dynamics. The second movement was never really up Karajan’s alley, though, and I feel that all of his performances of it take a heavy-handed approach. The third movement goes like the wind in the early recordings, and only slows slightly for the later ones. This leaves some approximations of notes in places, but its exhilaration is undeniable. Remarkable too is the weight of sound that Karajan gets from his players, despite the break-neck tempo. No other performances achieve both so convincingly, which is perhaps why Karajan’s is one of the most effective concepts of this piece. I would like to hear a little more bite to the string attacks in the final ‘Adagio’, but it remains movingly lyrical. The later Decca recording from 1976 (available in Universal’s “Penguin Classics” series) rivals the earlier EMI and DG, although the recorded sound surprisingly enough doesn’t surpass them. For a 1976 recording, one would expect more bass impact than Decca delivered. There is also a 1984 DG recording by Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic, which offers the same basic interpretation, but with less emotional involvement.

Other than Karajan, few Austro-German conductors have proven highly dedicated to this work. Christoph von Dohnаnyi’s Telarc recording with the Cleveland Orchestra is notable for its clarity of textures and firm grip, but it remains too emotionally cool to enter the top ranks. The Otto Klemperer EMI recording is grimly effective in the outer movements, but charmlessly stolid in the middle movements. The early recording by Willem Mengelberg (who wasn’t German but was an offshoot of the German tradition) seems hopelessly exaggerated by modern standards. Part of that actually came from a misunderstanding. Mengelberg once met Tchaikovsky’s brother Modest, who showed him his brother’s handwritten score, which had numerous different details from the final published score. Mengelberg painstakingly copied down these differences and employed them in his performance. Modern scholars have determined, however, that the score which Modest showed Mengelberg was in fact the draft that Tchaikovsky later corrected for publication. I find the composer’s revisions to be definite improvements. For instance, Tchaikovsky originally had an exaggerated swell marked over the first bassoon solo. He later toned this down, realizing that it was too early in the work for such histrionics. The Mengelberg is at least an interesting historical curiosity, and was most recently available from Teldec, although one would expect it to show up at some point in the bargain-priced Naxos Historical series.

Another historical recording from the German school that is well-loved in many circles is the recording made by Wilhelm Furtwдngler and the Berlin Philharmonic. It certainly puts itself at a distance from the openly emotional Russian approach. Furtwдngler treats the work broadly and replaces the swoon of the first movement’s second theme with a world-weary sort of resignation. Indeed, much of the performance is languorous and otherworldly. This approach certainly moves the piece in a more Brucknerian direction, and often doesn’t really sound like Tchaikovsky at all, but it is quite effective in its own way, and is certainly recommended to those interested in both historical recordings and alternative interpretations.

A fine classical ‘Pathйtique’ from an unexpected source is the 1991 RCA recording by Gьnter Wand. After all, Wand was identified overwhelmingly with the German repertoire. But his catalog of recordings over the years did feature some Russian music, so it obviously held interest for him. What Wand does with this work is true to form: He delivers a straightforward but very committed performance, true to the score without attempting to grandstand. If it ultimately has less flair than some of the ‘Pathйtiques’ led by operatic conductors, it is nonetheless an intense performance, in good recorded sound, which culminates in a searing rendition of the finale. Thus, in the long run, Wand brings the same control and fire to this music that he always did with Bruckner, but by following the composer’s directions comes up with a very different final product (unlike the Furtwдngler recording discussed above, where the conductor overlays a Brucknerian concept on Tchaikovsky’s score). The only serious drawback to the Wand disc is the filler, which is a brisk, no-nonsense version of Stravinsky’s ‘Pulcinella Suite’.

The southern Europeans have proven strong advocates of Tchaikovsky over the years. Arturo Toscanini did much to counter the wayward performances of the early twentieth century. If his successors have overly standardized the piece, that’s not Toscanini’s fault. After more than half a century, his Philadelphia and NBC Symphony recordings still remain greatly effective. Toscanini responded to the drama in Tchaikovsky, treating the work like a Verdian opera for orchestra. The difference between Toscanini and most of his predecessors is that Toscanini demonstrated that the work was inherently dramatic and powerful without the overlay of sentimental exaggerations. Though his recordings remain typically driven (the NBC much more so than the Philadelphia), and the monophonic sound is far from ideal, these remain compelling performances.

One of Toscanini’s colleagues was the Greek conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos, and his stereo Tchaikovsky ‘Pathйtique’ for Columbia with the New York Philharmonic stands as one of his finest recordings. Its initial LP release was only in mono, but there was a later stereo reissue on Columbia’s budget “Odyssey” label, and although the stereo sound is a bit crude, it is real stereo and not one of those electronically equalized fake-stereo monstrosities which also appeared on that label. Mitropoulos is often associated with the sort of excess that Toscanini railed against, but her he hews close to the bone. He tears into it with a frightening emotional commitment, and it clearly inspired the (then) notoriously variable New York Philharmonic. It is a fast, furious performance that desperately needs to be reissued, rough edges and all. If Sony is unwilling to release it, they should license it to someone who is. To hell with the accountants: A performance like that should be available to those who need it, regardless of profit margins.

A protйgй of Toscanini’s who made two fine commercial recordings of the ‘Pathйtique’ was Carlo Maria Giulini. His earlier recording was on EMI in the early 1960’s with Klemperer’s formidable Philharmonia Orchestra. It is both sleek and passionate, featuring the galvanic textures Giulini regularly achieved in those days. The later Los Angeles Philharmonic recording on DG from 1980 was a shade less passionate and electric, but it replaces those thrills with a deeper contemplation of the work’s dark side. Neither recording is in ideal sound (and the LA is not currently available), but both performances hold a proud place in Giulini’s distinguished discography.

Two modern Italian rivals have both done well by this work. Riccardo Muti follows in the footsteps of Toscanini with his driving performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra on EMI, though with more spacious tempos. Muti’s EMI Tchaikovsky recordings are among his finest achievements. I have not heard his later Philadelphia remake, although I did hear Muti and the Philadelphia perform it live on tour in the early 1990’s, a performance which was not nearly as good as the EMI performance. I say performance, as distinct from recording, because the recording itself is disappointing: All of the orchestra, save one, are in the boomy distance. The one who is not is the timpanist, whose drums are boosted front and center, which is pretty ludicrous sounding, considering that Muti always calls on the timpani to be aggressively rhythmic anyway. But despite the sound, it is one of the great performances.

A typically contrasting view comes from Muti’s long-standing rival Claudio Abbado in his CBS recording from the late 1980’s with the Chicago Symphony. Abbado concentrates on the intimate and lyrical aspects of the work, rarely unleashing the full power of the Chicago Symphony (for that, turn to Solti’s brash 1976 recording on Decca). This is typical of the overall approach Abbado took in his Chicago cycle, which started in 1985 with the ‘Second’ on CBS and ended in 1991 with the ‘First’ on Sony. Surprisingly, Sony has never issued this cycle as a box set. It remains very welcome for Abbado’s lyrical insights, with he and the Chicago Symphony tempering each other’s extremes very effectively. One factor that is especially notable is that these are generally more subdued performances than Abbado’s earlier partial cycle for DG. The later cycle has a bit less adrenaline (which hurts the ‘Fourth’ most of all), and less exaggeration (which helps the ‘Fifth’ most of all). The biggest gain, though, is found in how Abbado finds his way to the heart of the works, losing any sense of routine so that Tchaikovsky’s inspiration speaks in a very heartfelt, direct manner. The lack of bombast in the ‘Pathйtique’, though, may leave Abbado’s recording as less than a first choice for those wanting blood-and-guts with their Tchaikovsky.

Another Chicago recording from around the same time featured James Levine conducting. The RCA recording offered the glassiness of early digital compact disc sound, although in fact it should be pointed out that the original source was a 20-bit Soundstream recording, which might sound a little better if it were reissued in high-resolution format. The standard CD release required a bit-stream conversion to 16-bit format, a process which many companies had to do in order to adapt early Soundstream technology to the compact disc. Telarc was one of those companies, and they have demonstrated with some of their reissues of 20-bit Soundstream recordings on SACD that the bit-conversion did in fact slightly compromise the sound on the original releases. But even in higher resolution, I suspect the RCA recording would sound aggressive, for the recording was made in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, which has a very wide but shallow stage. This left-to-right spread allows sounds to separate instead of blend, and RCA’s close-up miking intensified that effect, thus giving the whole recording a somewhat artificial feel. CBS, by comparison, achieved a much more handsome sound in Abbado’s disc. Levine’s interpretation is straightforward but a bit too calculated (a charge that could also be made against the later RCA recording by Leonard Slatkin). It sounds like the grand old romantic approach tamed for domestic use.

In the epic category we come to the DG recording by Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic, and Sergiu Celibidache with the Munich Philharmonic on EMI. I started each of them on one of my CD players last week, and as soon as one of them is finished, I’ll get back to you… No, no, I’m just being silly. They’re not really that slow. Not quite, anyway. But Bernstein and Celibidache’s performances are not jokes that can be dismissed out-of-hand. Both become almost surreal in places with their slow-motion psychological disintegrations, but they both work if you can accept the outlandish tempos. Celibidache wins the anti-sprint for the first movement finish line, with a timing of over twenty-five minutes. Both go broad in the middle movements, with “Celi” again setting a record for his ten-and-a-half-minute march. Bernstein stretches the finale further than anyone else, though, coming in at just over seventeen minutes, fully twice as long as the fastest recordings. Celibidache tends toward a meditative approach to the symphony, whereas Bernstein’s approach is one of larger-than-life passion. Indeed, one could think of the two performances as representing the ne plus ultra of the Russian and Germanic traditions (Bernstein after the Russian manner, Celibidache in the Teutonic mould). Both are live recordings, with the EMI (from Southwest German Radio) sounding richer and more natural. The DG is a rather opaque recording, congested and aggressive, but listenable. If you can take the distended tempos, they offer mind-stretching listening experiences.

In the end, I think Gergiev is quite competitive with the finest recordings of the ‘Pathйtique’, combining something approaching the nervous energy of Mravinsky, the operatic flair of Toscanini, and the tenderness of Abbado. Attractive surround sound cinches it and makes this a strong recommendation. The supplemental features on the disc are pretty cut-and-dried: A handful of pictures, and an audio catalogue of Gergiev’s other recordings. The real “bonus” is that the Tchaikovsky comes coupled with a glorious performance of Scriabin’s ‘Prometheus’, a work that is as mystically outward-looking as Tchaikovsky’s is inner. Alexander Toradze plays the firebrand piano solo part with conviction and lots of attitude, and Gergiev matches him every step of the way. Although this coupling of pieces is one that has never been tried before, the two works actually make a tremendous impact back to back: The Tchaikovsky demolishes itself into nothingness, and then out of that void suddenly springs the teeming universe of Scriabin’s brave new world, completely different from the preceding work, yet growing out of the same romantic tradition into something far beyond it. Bravo to whomever had the inspired idea of placing them both on this recording.

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