Scriabin
Danses, Op.73
Poèmes, Op.71
Preludes, Op.11
Preludes, Op.16
Preludes, Op.74
Vers la flamme, Op.72
Lucille Chung (piano)

Recorded in September 2002 at Dynamic’s, Genova, Italy
CD No: DYNAMIC CDS 416
Duration:
Reviewed: June 2003
Scriabin’s piano music is virtuosic, ingenuously romantic and darkly modern by turns; a whole disc of it represents a diverse challenge to the performer.
Lucille Chung is at her best at the opening of the disc, the 24 Preludes, Op.11. Her singing legato tone and her winning simplicity are ideal vehicles for the poetic themes of preludes 2, 4, 5 and 7 or, indeed, the opening prelude of the five of Op.16. Op.11/4 gives an especially good idea of the beauties of Chung’s phrasing. Nor does she lack the technique to convey the virtuosity of preludes such as Nos.3, 6 or 14 of Op.11 or the precision needed for Op.16/2.
Where the music is rawer, denser or more intense, however, Chung is less convincing. Her Scriabin inhabits a soundworld essentially transparent, or at least translucent, where innocence has a far more important place than brooding or darkness. It lacks – deliberately or not – a sense of pain or conflict. While, therefore, Chung excellently conveys reflective or meditative moods, her readings, especially of the later pieces on the disc, the opuses in the 70s, written in 1914, often seem Formalistic. She gives the listener a delicious variety of sound effects, without quite sufficiently elucidating the depth or complexity of pieces such as Vers la flamme or the Op.71 poems, which leaves the listener on the outside of the music.
This is equally true of the Op.74 Preludes – again there are beautiful sounds without the last degree of structural or intellectual conviction. No.4 in particular is delicately jewelled without truly representing its questioning or innovation. Genuine simplicity succeeds in a prelude such as Op.16/4.
Lucille Chung is Canadian, born in Montreal, and already has a reputation for playing contemporary music; she has an impressive list of recital and concerto appearances. It is certain her many talents will bring her future success. The sound here is fine and open, if over-bright at times. Nevertheless, this is a recommendable CD, which is immaculately presented.

 

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