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Preludes Vol. 1

Scriabin Audio CD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.22 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Prld in B, Op.2 No.2
2. Prld in c#, Op.9 No.1
3. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.1 in C: Vivace
4. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.2 in a: Allegretto
5. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.3 in G: Vivo
6. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.4 in e: Lento
7. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.5 in D: Andante Cantabile
8. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.6 in b: Allegro
9. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.7 in A: Allegro Assai
10. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.8 in f#: Allegro Agitato
11. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.9 in E: Andantino
12. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.10 in c#: Andante
13. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.11 in B: Allegro Assai
14. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.12 in g#: Andante
15. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.13 in G flat: Lento
16. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.14 in e flat: Presto
17. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.15 in D flat: Lento
18. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.16 in b flat: Misterioso
19. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.17 in A flat: Allegretto
20. Twenty-Four Prlds, Op.11: No.18 in f: Allegro Agitato
See all 49 tracks on this disc

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Some of the most gorgeous piano solos ever written Sept. 29 2002
Format:Audio CD
While I would prefer to hear these preludes done by one of my favorite pianists (most of whom are unfortunately no longer with us), I am grateful that Zarafiants has recorded these gems. Scriabin's music is moody, complex and sometimes difficult to render cleanly and at the same time, emotionally. Not every prelude is a brilliant composition, either; Scriabin never actually studied composition strictly for piano.
Scriabin wrote much in a short time--he lived only until his forties, yet left an impressive volume of solo piano works. Some of the preludes, necessarily, are mere sketches that were apparently quickly knocked off. Others, like the Prelude #7 im A Major, Op. 11, are potent short works that leave the listener stunned by the magnificence of melodic line and dense harmonics.
This CD may not be perfect, but there is a lot of great music here for the price, and if you listen to track #9 (the A Major) you might be just as smitten with Scriabin's music as I am.
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5.0 out of 5 stars faithful rendition Aug. 29 2000
Format:Audio CD
Another reviewer pretty well damns this recording, but I'm of a different mind. I think its interpretation of Scriabin's Preludes is much to be commended. Befitting Scriabin's mood music, it shows a fine range of emotions, from wispy to fervent. Remember these are preludes, not etudes. His own indications are "vagamente," "doloroso," "languido," and especially "andante" and "lento," as well as the faster tempi. How can you say Zarafiants plays them too slow, when he follows Scriabin's own metronome settings? Too many virtuoso pianists use Scriabin's wildest pieces to show off. The result is people thinking that that's all Scriabin is--crashing, booming, and a thousand notes a minute. Well, this is Scriabin as well, and I'm glad Zarafiants takes the time to give this side of him to us faithfully.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 28 2000
Format:Audio CD
Naxos do not often get it as wrong as this. Scriabin is volatile, powerful, with surges of emotions often barely kept in check. This recording is expansive and luxurious, but it fails to get off the ground. The tempi are painfully slow, and the excitment totally absent. A bad disc for first timers, an interesting new look at the works for those who already know his music. Scriabin should never bore. Turn to Deyanova for the real thing, or wait for Hamelin to get around to these
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars faithful rendition Aug. 28 2000
By Richard H. Haswell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Another reviewer pretty well damns this recording, but I'm of a different mind. I think its interpretation of Scriabin's Preludes is much to be commended. Befitting Scriabin's mood music, it shows a fine range of emotions, from wispy to fervent. Remember these are preludes, not etudes. His own indications are "vagamente," "doloroso," "languido," and especially "andante" and "lento," as well as the faster tempi. How can you say Zarafiants plays them too slow, when he follows Scriabin's own metronome settings? Too many virtuoso pianists use Scriabin's wildest pieces to show off. The result is people thinking that that's all Scriabin is--crashing, booming, and a thousand notes a minute. Well, this is Scriabin as well, and I'm glad Zarafiants takes the time to give this side of him to us faithfully.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 28 2000
By M. A COMBRINK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Naxos do not often get it as wrong as this. Scriabin is volatile, powerful, with surges of emotions often barely kept in check. This recording is expansive and luxurious, but it fails to get off the ground. The tempi are painfully slow, and the excitment totally absent. A bad disc for first timers, an interesting new look at the works for those who already know his music. Scriabin should never bore. Turn to Deyanova for the real thing, or wait for Hamelin to get around to these
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scriabin's Preludes for piano Dec 29 2012
By Dr. H. A. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
These are relatively early works in the relatively short life of Russian composer and pianist, Alexander Scriabin: he died when he was only 43. The Preludes on this CD (the first of two of his Preludes) were composed in the 1880s and early 1890s. They therefore tend to sound rather more like Chopin than the mature Scriabin, but none the less enjoyable for that. They are relatively tranquil pieces amongst more than 200 compositions for the piano by Scriabin.
They are engagingly played on this (and the companion) Naxos disc by Evgeny Zarafiants. With over 75 minutes playing time and a crisp clear sound quality, this CD is highly recommendable as a bargain buy.

Scriabin: Preludes, Vol. 2
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WOODEN! Great music ill-served by blinkered literalism June 11 2008
By Dace Gisclard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I entirely agree with everything Mr. "Albert" says, except he's far too kind. Mr. Haswell's review mentions that another reviewer has "damned" this CD. I'm not sure if this refers to me, but it doesn't matter. Mr. Haswell has expressed his disagreement in such a gentlemanly manner that no one could possibly be offended. Some Amazon reviewers could learn a lesson about this from him.

Summoning up my great love of Scriabin, I feel I must point out that my execration of Zarafiants' performances have nothing to do with whether the pieces are preludes or etudes. Presumably, Mr. Haswell's remark that "preludes are not etudes" is meant to convey that preludes don't offer opportunities for "technical display", whereas etudes do. Not so!--preludes can be just as technically showy as etudes. One might say that "prelude" in the sense used by Chopin, Scriabin, Kabalevsky et al., means a short "character piece" that is not a "prelude" to anything. However, even this does not pin things down. For musicians, this particular usage of "prelude" carries NO connotations of ANY kind regarding emotional character, technical difficulty, tempo, length (witness Chopin's examples in A-flat and D-flat, or at least 23 of Rachmaninoff's 24, which are all quite long), or anything else. Conversely, some etudes are quite undemanding, brief, and even sight-readable.

But, getting back to Zarafiants--my objections center upon his pacing and articulation of this music. Take Op.11 No.1--Zarafiants plays every note of the prevailing eighth-note texture with equal emphasis and unvarying metronomic regularity. In theory, this sounds laudable--in practice, it's deadly. Musicians refer to this kind of playing as "notey." It's the same trap amateur singers fall into when told "I can't understand the words." The singer's usual reaction to this observation is to give every syllable equal emphasis. This earnest over-projection SOUNDS like a good idea, but in practice it actually INHIBITS linguistic and emotional communication. Try reciting a familiar text like the "Pledge of Allegiance" with every syllable equally stressed and at an unvarying pace--a la "Robbie the Robot"--hopefully, you'll see what I mean. Music is a language--we don't speak that way, why should we play music that way? This is precisely what Zarafiants inflicts on Scriabin. If everything is equally important, then NOTHING is important.

Also it IS too slow. True, the metronome marking is quarter = 67-76, but the tempo instruction is "Vivace." As with all such markings, this is intended as much as a description of character as it is of tempo. Try playing this piece at the metronome marking--it won't feel even remotely "vivacious" or "lively." Perhaps Zarafiants was trying to see if he could make the metronome marking work--he doesn't convince me. SCRIABIN HIMSELF played it at about 132-138! This is not humbug--we actually possess recordings of this piece and others PLAYED BY THE COMPOSER! They are cylinders (not unreliable piano rolls) and they play at correct pitch. Horowitz, Lewenthal, Ponti, and Lettberg--all respectable Scriabinists--all play this piece much faster than the metronome marking. Horowitz, at least, lived close enough in time to Scriabin's death to have worked with teachers who knew the composer's playing at first hand. This is not the only such case. The metronome marking for Op.11 No.14 is dotted quarter plus quarter (i.e., five eighth notes) = 67-72, but it is described as "Presto" (meaning VERY FAST)! Scriabin plays it at about 92-96! The skeptical or curious can hear these Scriabin cylinders on HARMONIA MUNDI's "Saison Russe" series, RUS 788032, issued in 1997.

Throughout this CD, Zarfiants plays every note with the same earnest equality of emphasis. This lack of nuance is probably what makes many of his tempi seem slow, because there is no tension and release; no beginning, middle and endings to phrases; no point-to-point ductus; no journeys, no points of arrival. THIS is my reason for so thoroughly disliking this CD and its companion, Vol.II.

As for being "helpful" to those seeking a complete recording of Scriabin's Preludes ONLY, I'm afraid I can't offer much assistance. My favorite is Maria Lettberg's, contained in her 8-CD set of all the works with opus numbers. As of this date, copies are still turning up on Amazon and Amazon.UK). Ponti's is a little messy but tolerable, and cheaply available as part of his two-volume recording of the complete piano music. With dickering from an equalizer or the tone controls the sound can be made tolerable, but it's not the greatest. Among separate recordings of the complete Preludes, Piers Lane is the best of a bad lot, although he does not project inner voices with sufficient profile. The new ARTE NOVA set falls victim to the malaise of "expressiveness = self-indulgent sound-bathing at ultra-slow tempi with directionless hyper-rubato" that's currently infesting university recital performances of everything from Schumann, Brahms and Strauss to even Faure and Poulenc. My advice--snap up Lettberg while you can. In the meantime, Ponti or Lane are stopgaps.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding, if obviously controversial, approach July 7 2010
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Naxos's survery of Scriabin's preludes with Evgeny Zarafiants takes a chronological approach, so the works on this first disc are mostly from Scriabin's youth (mostly his mid-twenties, actually). Still, Scriabin's compositional voice is clearly audible, if not as blazingly over the top as in the later works - only the early op. 2 no. 2 is overly Chopinesque. Zarafiants's versions might not be the first choice in any of them, but it does yield some interesting dividends. The treatment of the op. 11 preludes might come across as a little on the slow side (as other reviewers have pointed out), but they are realized with an unusual amount of textural clarity even if they often become a little low-key, and it is an interesting take if perhaps not one I would recommend to a newcomer. The later preludes (op.13-op.17), on the other hand, receive a rather fiercely brilliant treatment (though still, in fact, on the slow side) - quite effective, if not on the level of, say, Sofronitsky. The piano doesn't sound ideally attuned, but the sound quality is generally good, and this is certainly a more than decent budget version.
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