Vladimir Ashkenazy turns to the fine art of the piano miniature in this album, unlocking the poetic expression and vibrant colours of forty exquisite pieces by Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915). Vers la flame, released in April 2015 to mark the centenary of Scriabin’s death, opens with the C sharp minor Étude Op.2 No.1, written during its composer’s mid-teens, and comprises such late masterworks as the album’s title track and the five Préludes Op.74.
Monteux draws a brisk and clean performance from the orchestra. The rich and melodic symphony is presented with vitality. Sound is a plus factor, and an interesting portrait of the composer lends excellent display values. There are other versions, but this can compete strongly(The Billboard, Sept. 14, 1959)
A Bert Whyte recording of Maestro Stokowski conducting the Houston Symphony at the Houston Civic Center in 1959. Le Poeme d’extase is a big, one movement work in sonata form that combines the elements of a symphony and a tone poem. The work highlights Scriabin’s development and exploitation of new harmonic ideas including chord structures constructed on intervals of a fourth instead of a third. Coupled on this release is another Stokowski/Houston performance of Amirov’s “Azerbaijan Mugan” recorded on March 16th, 1959 at the Houston Civic Center. Amirov’s composition, masterfully performed by Stokowski and the Houston, exhibits the complicated system of mode scales and fixed melodic patterns characteristic of music of the East.