SCRIABIN Preludes, Etudes and Sonatas (Kholodenko)
Vadym Kholodenko’s stated goal is to reveal the cohesion in the chronological development of Scriabin’s musical language. He chooses his programme accordingly to represent each stage of this evolution: from Chopinesque allusions in the early Preludes to mystic exhalation in the composer’s last completed work, Vers la flamme.
Gold Medal winner at the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition, Kholodenko first came to my attention from his appearance in the third Horowitz Competition in Kiev, where he was awarded second prize in the junior category (bow-tied and with incipient moustache at the age of 13). His mature affinity for Scriabin comes through in the way he contours phrases, sentences and paragraphs, and in his sensitive layering of complex textures. Though his Fazioli would not be my instrument of choice for this (or any) repertoire, and the dry ish recording quality doesn’t help, it certainly makes for a charming, well-rounded treble sound in the slow episodes.
Where Kholodenko is least persuasive is in conveying a sense of abandon. So there is less uplift than there might be in the Op 42 Studies (particularly the ever-popular No 5) and especially in the Fifth Sonata. For the nonpareil of exhilaration in the latter, hear Richter, who plays like a man possessed. Kholodenko makes a curious diversion from the score at the final peroration, where he suddenly hits the brakes rather than the accelerator (perhaps he was thinking of how the composer’s son-in-law Sofronitsky handles this moment). Keeping the sound on the pedal for an extra 20 seconds after the last note is another surprising interpretative choice (to put it kindly).
For all that, a great deal of thought has clearly gone into Kholodenko’s interpretations and his aim to demonstrate continuity across the distinct phases of Scriabin’s output is certainly achieved.