News & Reviews

SCRIABIN: Piano Sonatas 3-5 and 8-10

Matthew Bengtson - Romeo 7232 - 74 minutes

Here is a real sleeper - a wonderful surprise. Where has Matthew Bengtson been? His biography is rather sparse on solo recitals or orchestral appearances. He has studied with Ann Schein, Robert Levin, and Malcolm Bilson. Apparently he has devoted much of his energy to teaching. On the basis of this recording Bengtson is a remarkable artist, at least in the music of Scriabin. Big-boned pianism, rich tonal colors and dazzling technique are all on display here. Has Scriabin ever been played better? Only Horowitz and Richter can compare to what Bengtson achieves on this disc. Does he play this well in concert?

Scriabin’s music continues to astound. From the neoromanticism of the early sonatas to the path-breaking mysticism of the late works, Scriabin was one of music’s true originals. The dark, ambiguous harmonies of the last sonatas continue to fascinate and disturb. What would Scriabin’s magnum opus Mysterium have been like? (Gunther Schuller has completed a symphonic version of part of that impossible project. Why has that visionary fragment not been recorded?) The Field Concert Hall at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute offers a spacious, warmly resonant environment for Bengtson’s exciting music-making.

BUDMEN (Lawrence Budmen, American Record Guide, July/August 2005)

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