Andrey Gugnin’s Scriabin Mazurkas

Review by: Jed Distler

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Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 10

Scriabin’s Mazurkas mainly represent his early period, from early adolescence through 1903, stopping short of the harmonic advances and mystical overtones characterizing his later works. They’re generally less striking than Scriabin’s early Preludes and Etudes, yet sensitive pianists with an ear for nuance usually put across the Mazurkas convincingly.

Andrey Gugnin possesses these qualities, and has that gift for spinning out melodies in long, shapely arches, with exquisite finger legato. In the E major Op. 25 No. 4, he lovingly lingers where Maria Lettberg flies ahead. The B major Op. 25 No. 8’s elusive phrases ebb and flow over the bar lines, while strategically deployed left-hand accents spice up the E-flat minor Op. 25 No. 9’s understated disquiet. Gugnin underscores the two Op. 40 Mazurkas’ sexy modulations by adjusting touch and shifting timbre, rather than using rubato.

My only half-quibble concerns many of the early Op. 3 selections, where Gugnin’s basic pulse leans more toward waltzing regularity than “mazurking” asymmetry. Peter Jablonski’s Mazurkas have the interpretive edge in this regard. On the other hand, Gugnin’s approach imparts a stronger than usual backbone to the expansive and ethereal Op. 3 No. 10 piece in E-flat minor.

As with Chopin’s Mazurkas, Scriabin’s lend themselves to different interpretive approaches, and to pick one cycle over another is like choosing apples over oranges over plums over grapes over, well, every other fruit! Certainly you cannot go wrong with Gugnin’s refined artistry and Hyperion’s world-class sonics, although I’m not relinquishing my reference Jablonski, Alexeev, and Lettberg cycles. And when I crave more subjective and stretched out Scriabin Mazurka playing, I’ve got the François Chaplin and Artur Pizarro cycles on reserve.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Jablonski (Ondine); Alexeev (Brilliant Classics); Lettberg (Capriccio)

  • Andrey Gugnin (piano)

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