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‘I bring not truth but freedom,’ Alexander Scriabin once declared of his music. For Boris Pasternak that music cultivated ‘a kind of weightless motion, as if he were in flight’.

The 90 piano preludes on this new double album distil Scriabin’s harmonic and melodic ideas into miniature form. Many of them are only 40 seconds long, each embodying a mood or a single musical idea. They make excellent encores, splashes of colour coming at the end of recitals of more substantial works.

It’s a tribute both to Scriabin and his interpreter Daniel Pereira that we are not bored, despite the consistency of the compositional voice. As has often been observed, the early preludes hark back to Chopin, with some being very close pastiches of his Op 28 set. But the pleasure of this collection lies in how Scriabin enriches his harmonic palette and enters the realms of ambiguity: Op 59 omits a key signature and abjures any semblance of tonal conclusion, while the title of the penultimate piece – ‘Lent, vague, indécis’ – could stand for many here. Some come clad in a delicious aura of mystery, others pulsate with life.

MICHAEL CHURCH Read the full review on Agora Classica


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