Poem of Ecstasy has fully earned every bit of its fame. The colors coaxed from the orchestra are brilliant yet always used in service of the music. Scriabin’s main themes are easy to remember and recognize even as they make their peregrinations through the twists and turns of his chromaticism. And the heights of jubilant grandeur the piece reaches are surrounded by their own rare air. Shui and the Singapore Symphony are simultaneously polished, controlled, and invigorating, turning in a performance that ranks with the best. In the sonata, Sudbin wins every devilish challenge the composer throws his way, keeping the lines and rhythms clean while apparently having the time of his life. The miking makes the piano sound nearly psychedelic, with different parts of the keyboard coming from different places in the soundstage. It’s like being inside the piano instead of just in the hall! Prometheus is a vivid tone poem depicting the evolution of the world and humankind from gritty chaos to “ultimate transcendence.” Though parts of it feel like a less-inspired sequel to Poem of Ecstasy, it has more violent undertones and lurid orchestration. Again, a stellar performance in splendid sound.
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