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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67131/2
Recording details: June 1995
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: March 1996
Total duration: 12 minutes 9 seconds

'He commands the four qualities that a Scriabin interpreter must have: a feverish intensity, a manic vision, a sovereign and fastidious command of the pedal, and a huge dynamic range' (Gramophone)

'Hamelin rises to the challenges of this music with complete mastery. But his is more than a purely technical triumph (though the effortless of his playing has to be heard to be believed)' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This is one of the most significant Scriabin recordings of recent years, as well as another triumph for Hamelin, who reveals as much affinity for this Russian mystic as he has for Alkan, Godowsky, Ives, and Bolcom on earlier discs … Two more favorable elements must be noted: Hyperion's spacious and vivid recorded sound, and a really superb set of booklet notes by Simon Nicholls' (American Record Guide)

'Hamelin's playing enthralls the ear with its rounded, never-ugly tone, flickering fingerwork, and thunderous power. A sensational issue in every sense' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hamelin's playing has superb authority and presence, and when required the greatest delicacy too. His amazing technical skill is completely at the service of the music. This is a major release' (Classic CD)

'Hamelin's revelatory cycle of the Scriabin sonatas takes top honors rather easily … a vein that's rarely been mined—and never with such virtuoso perfection. The more you think you know about these scores, the more striking you're liable to find this set' (Fanfare, USA)

'Marc-André Hamelin is the most important interpreter of Scriabin's music to have come along in decades' (Clavier)

'Il a les doigts et la sensibilité, la clairvoyance aussi, qui lui permettent de trouver un lyrisme généreux' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)

Piano Sonata No 8, Op 66

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The last three sonatas were all written in 1912/3 on a country estate. The Sonata No 8, Op 66, was the last to be finished and is notable among the late works for its length and inward, meditative character—reflected in the rarity in the score of the emotionally charged performance directions of which the composer had become fond. Scriabin never performed the work himself, but spoke enthusiastically of it, and of the exquisite proportions of its form: he thought of his quasi-geometrical organizations as ‘bridges between the visible [the natural world] and the invisible [the conceptual, artistic realm]’. The opening chords he thought of as counterpoint, but a counterpoint where all the parts were ‘at perfect peace’. This may link with his view of the cosmos as ‘a system of correspondences’ and his desire to contemplate things ‘on the level of unity’. A letter to Tatyana Schloezer in 1905 had spoken of a desire to ‘explain the Universe in terms of free creativity’. Boris Asafiev associated the piece with ‘the physical world and the laws of energy’, and the themes are said by Sabaneiev to represent the elements. It is easy to hear the lightness and mobility of air in the recurring cascades of fourths, contrasting with the solidity of earth at the beginning, and a later development of the Allegro theme ebbs and flows like the waves of the sea. The luminous use of trills in this sonata is particularly ravishing. One theme stands out from the others: marked ‘tragique’, it climbs and aspires only to fall back exhausted. Scriabin was particularly taken with the change of mood from hope to despair within this melodic arch, and it is tempting to see in this musical idea, as Faubion Bowers has suggested, the phenomenon of individual consciousness—regarded by Scriabin as an ‘illusion’, but one necessary to the contrast required even in so sophisticated and modified a sonata form as this one. The interpenetration of themes is even more thorough-going than in the Seventh Sonata, and the work’s material is summed up in a final dance of increasing speed, complexity and immateriality where all seems to dissolve into its constituent atoms.

from notes by Simon Nicholls © 1996

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