Vadym Kholodenko’s Low-Voltage Scriabin

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 8

Do your like your Scriabin polished to the nines, rounded at the edges? Do you prefer its violent outbursts pacified and its foaming mouth muzzled? I certainly don’t. The Fourth and Fifth sonatas’ yearning themes usually palpitate, but not when Vadym Kholodenko fussily pokes at them. In the Fifth, incidentally, Kholodenko perversely holds the final note down with the pedal for about 20 seconds instead of releasing it quickly. The disquieting mosquito that Scriabin depicts and Vladimir Horowitz so pointedly characterizes in the Op. 42 No. 3 Etude emerges here like a stingless honeybee. In the Poème satanique Op. 36, Kholodenko seems intent on showing off his impressive palette of staccato articulations rather than unleashing demons. Nor does Vers la flamme’s scorching subtext ignite or combust, due to Kholodenko’s slow and shapeless conception.

Granted, Kholodenko often fares well with the smaller, lyrical Preludes, such as in his lovingly flickering performance of Op. 16 No. 2, or in the gorgeous way that he projects Op. 16 No. 3’s long arching phrases across the footlights. And there’s no question that Kholodenko controls his instrument to the point where nothing gets in the way between intention and execution. But this is essentially low-voltage Scriabin.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Piano Sonata No. 4: Pletnev (Virgin Classics), Piano Sonata No. 5: Richter (DG)

  • Vadym Kholodenko (piano)

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