SCRIABIN Preludes STOCKHAUSEN Klavierstuck XII
In the booklet interview accompanying her latest CD, Vanessa Benelli Mosell asserts that ‘Scriabin and Stockhausen shared the ambition to present a totalitarian picture of the Universe through their compositions’. In fact, these composers inspire a wide and often contradictory range of interpretative gambits. In the main, Mosell’s conception of Scriabin’s Op 11 Preludes splits the difference between, say, the robust classicism of Piers Lane’s Hyperion cycle and the subjective freedom marking Klara Min’s Steinway & Sons recording.
Many details grab your attention. The bar-lines virtually disappear throughout her fast, fluid and highly flexible treatment of No 2, but not the narrative core. No 4’s left-hand cantilena independently floats across the steady right-hand accompanying chords, while No 11 recovers its long lost animated qualities, and No 14’s sudden crescendo surges gain newfound intensity. While Mosell takes No 16’s homage to Chopin’s ‘Funeral March’ slower than the printed metronome marking indicates, she nevertheless achieves a genuine misterioso and sotto voce ambience, abetted by generous pedalling. No 18 is appropriately agitato but the basic tempo hardly varies when Scriabin asks you to accelerate into a concluding Presto. Of the two Etudes forever linked with Horowitz, Op 2 No 1 features alluringly rolled chords and endless tone, while Op 8 No 11 is dynamically diffuse and lacks a real climax.
You don’t really have to know that Stockhausen’s Klavierstück XII derives from the opera Donnerstag aus Licht in order to appreciate its theatrical whimsy and myriad vocal effects, or its seemingly ragtag assemblage of jazz licks, Scriabinesque repeated chords and runs that scurry like fireflies and sting like hornets. Mosell brings more abandon and sheer physicality to the score than Bernard Wambach does in his superficially cleaner yet more conservative interpretation (Koch Schwann – nla), especially in the third section where the pianist has to whistle and play tricky passagework at the same time.
This is Mosell’s most focused and satisfying solo CD release to date.