. . . reflective and sometimes indulgent, very much viewing these pieces through the prism of Romanticism rather than that of modernism. Ashkenazy is at his most winning in the early Chopinesque pieces, the Mazurkas Op 3, the "Studies" Op 8 and Op 42 especially, but his account of the phantasmagoric "Vers la Flamme", which gives the disc its title, as well as the set of late Preludes Op 74, are thrillingly persuasive, too, and he adds a Prelude by Yulian Alexandrovich Scriabin, the composer's son, who was drowned in 1919 at the age of 11, as a touching epilogue.
. . . [a] rewardingly varied recital . . . Ashkenazy is an authoritative, richly romantic performer of this repertoire. The music delights with its range and (in the late works) its impressionist sleight of hand.
Scriabin wrote some of the most enigmatic and minimal pieces in the piano repertoire . . . [and here] Ashkenazy captures their fleeting charm with skilful subtlety: the rippling phrases at the close of "Etudes Op. 8 No. VII" become smudges of sound, whilst still retaining definition, while the frantic, bird-like flurries in "Etudes Op. 42" are deftly harnessed to the rhythmic lilt.
[Scriabin /"Vers la Flamme"]: Ashkenazy reveals the poetic expression and vibrant colours of this and other exquisite pieces . . . [these thoughtful, persuasive performances show] his profound understanding of the music of this challenging yet rewarding composer.
The early "Etude in C# minor, Op.2 No.1" is beautifully shaped by Ashkenazy and makes the perfect opening . . . This pianist brings such energy and flair to the odd little "Mazurka No.6 in C# minor (Scherzando)" following all of Scriabin's mood changes and, indeed, changes of tempi and dynamic . . . [the "Etude for Piano, Op.8. No. 5" has a lovely breadth,] Ashkenazy always finding a great strength, a lovely touch, subtly sprung . . . ["Etude No. 10" is full of rhythmic drive,] given a terrifically concentrated performance. "No. 11 in B flat minor (Andante)" unfolds beautifully and naturally with a perfect poise, Ashkenazy shaping every note beautifully. Ashkenazy shows how he can really whip up a storm in the "Etude No. 12 in D sharp minor (Patetico)" full of assurance and power. This is great Scriabin from Ashkenazy, setting concentration and power against moments of supreme personal reflection . . . "Etudes, Op.42" follow with "No. 1 in D flat major (Presto)" revealing a feeling of impetuosity, brilliantly executed here . . . With "Prelude No. 4 in F sharp major (Andante)" this pianist reveals so many nuances within its lovely flow . . . Absolutely superb . . . [an] exceptionally fine recital . . . With "No.2 'Pòeme Fantasque' in C major (Presto)" Ashkenazy has the feel of Scriabin¿s distinctive rhythms and textures . . . ["Poèmes op. 71"]: "No.2 En rêvant, avec une grande douceur" is beautifully built as it subtly increases in strength and power, almost as though a mini sonata, such is its power in this performance. The apt title piece for this disc is "Vers la flamme, Op.72" (Toward the Flame) in which Ashkenazy slowly builds this initially brooding piece gradually allowing light to enter. An absolutely terrific performance . . . Ashkenazy has a natural empathy for Scriabin, bringing many subtleties. He has the ability to capture the fleeting beauties of Scriabin's later works to perfection. This is a beautifully structured recital finely recorded . . . Whatever new recordings are released this centenary year, Ashkenazy's contribution is very fine indeed.
Refreshingly, Vladimir Ashkenazy returns to the early music's Chopinesque roots, gently inflecting the mazurkas, preludes and etudes of Opp 2, 3, 8, 22 & 42 with a glowing naturalism that avoids any sense of inflated hysteria . . . the trade-off is an autumnal warmth and wisdom that is deeply satisfying . . . it is his "cantabile" phrasing and gentle cocooning of textures, ideal for the heady chromaticisms and augmented harmonies of Scriabin's late dreamworlds.
Was ihm besonders gut gelingt, sind die subtilen Momente, in denen er die Musik einfach fließen lässt und sich ganz auf die Zusammenklänge konzentriert. Doch es gibt auch die Stücke, die Unnachgiebigkeit erfordern, eine gewisse Strenge in Klang und Ausdruck. Ashkenazys Spiel ist dann voller Dramatik: Vorwärtsdrängend, aber nie hart. Klangvolumen und Balance haben stets Priorität. Beeindruckend ist auch das hohe technische Niveau, mit dem [er diese Werke präsentiert] . . . Ashkenazy zeigt Skrjabin als großen Neuerer, der jedoch das romantisch-impressionistische Fahrwasser und das Empfindsame nie ganz aufgeben wollte. Eine mit viel Herzblut aufgenommene Einspielung, die Skrjabins farbenreiche Musik zum Leuchten bringt.