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<<  -- 2 --  John Bell Young    Eclatant, Lumineux


Given the esoteric dimensions of his music, and its unusual demands on the interpreter, committed Scriabin authorities, including this writer, are few and far between. Even so, while Vladimir Sofronitsky (1901-1961), Scriabin's son-in-law, is widely viewed as his definitive interpreter, only a handful of pianists have ever mastered the full compliment of the music's innumerable complexities. Margarita Fyodorova, Walter Gieseking, Heinrich Neuhaus, Roberto Szidon, Sviatoslav Richter, Vitali Marguilis, Anatoli Vedyernikov and Vladimir Horowitz can each claim membership in that exclusive club. Now enter Boris Bekhterev, a middle-aged Russian pianist living in Japan. Judging from the magnificent, thoroughly informed and deliciously idiomatic performances recorded here, Mr Bekhterev emerges as one of the greatest Scriabin interpreters of all. Witness his reading of the exquisitely diaphanous Poème-nocturne [listen], a work that defines Scriabin's aesthetic disposition. As the dense, but elegantly segregated polyphony emerges from the texture, its innumerable voices hemorrhaging one into the other, he illuminates every contrapuntal corner and motivic arabesque. What's more, he sports a limpid tone that exploits dynamic contrast, not for its own sake but as a systole of a work's underlying formal structure. Mr Bekhterev understands Scriabin's now volatile, now fragile rhythm that relies, especially in the late works, on the formal organization and registration of motivic material, continuously recycled in the context of an essentially static, homogeneous harmony.

Elsewhere, Mr Bekhterev dispatches with eloquence the fin-de-siècle charms and suave lyricism of the early Waltz Op 38; redeems the poetic charms of the Two Poems Op 32; engages the impossible difficulties of the bellicose Poème tragique [listen] for its bold rhetoric; makes magic of the polyrhythmic bi-polarities of the Etrangete, Op 63 No 2; and extrapolates, with extraordinary finesse, the sinuous strands of counterpoint that fulfill the uneasy destiny of the stratified cross-rhythms of Vers la flamme [listen]. Mr Bekhterev seems acutely aware, too, of Scriabin's advice to Rachmaninoff on the occasion of the latter's performance of Scriabin's Prometheus: 'You must walk around my harmony!' he said, alluding to the effulgent multivalence of sonorities that emerge and disappear like so much smoke. For the interpreter who grasps that, as Mr Bekhterev does with such pristine aforethought, Scriabin's music is child's play.

Copyright © 13 February 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA





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