RAVEL Miroirs SCRIABIN Piano Sonatas Nos 3 & 10
Andrew Tyson keeps his headstrong and occasionally restless interpretative temperament in focus throughout most of his second solo CD, in contrast to his fascinating yet all-over-the-place Chopin Preludes debut release (ZZT, 3/15). He brings out all the theatricality and wide dynamic contrasts in the first movement of Scriabin’s Third Sonata while maintaining a fluid basic pulse. In the Allegretto, Tyson eschews the ‘traditional’ heaving and sighing à la Gilels and Zhukov; the bass line’s anapaest rhythm takes on a pointed sprint in the manner of Ashkenazy. The translucently nuanced Andante assiduously dovetails into a finale that observes the music’s fiery surface like an astute photographer, rather than jumping into the pyre. The Tenth Sonata’s celebrated chains of trills emerge more like Hamelin’s fireflies than Horowitz’s flames, mainly because Tyson colourfully juggles the textural strands with little recourse to the sustain pedal, rendering the music uncommonly clear yet without a trace of dryness.
What an intriguing juxtaposition to have Ravel’s Miroirs sandwiched between the Scriabin sonatas. A number of recent recordings have raised the bar in terms of finely honed articulation and tonal shading. Tyson sets a fast tempo for ‘Noctuelles’ and rarely veers from it, making interpretative points through accentuation and dynamic gradation. For all the pianistic finesse of ‘Oiseaux tristes’, Tyson never plays softly enough to convey the music’s inherent lyrical character. His brisk pace for ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ doesn’t allow the arpeggios to ebb and flow like (you guessed it) ocean waves. Similarly, the sultry subtext of ‘Alborada gel gracioso’ eludes Tyson’s supple yet overly fast fingers.
By contrast, Herbert Schuch, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Steven Osborne (among many others) hit upon tempos that enable the hemiola rhythms to really breathe, while imparting sharper definition and direction to the notorious repeated notes. However, the tolling long notes and murmuring triplet figures throughout ‘La vallée des cloches’ are layered in Technicolor perspective. Not everything Tyson does will suit every taste, yet his stunning keyboard mastery and strong personality undoubtedly command attention in this superbly engineered, fulsomely annotated release.