Scriabin Symphony No. 3 and No. 4

The first instalment of Gergiev and the LSO's new Scriabin Symphony cycle

The first instalment of Gergiev and the LSO's new Scriabin Symphony cycle

Scriabin, the Russian mystic and composer that stretched chromatic harmony as far as it could be, saved his greatest music for the keyboard. That said, his handful of orchestral works have made their way to concert programs with regularity over the past 50 years, especially the ‘4th Symphony’ on this new LSO LIve CD with Valery Gergiev conducting. 

Both Symphony No. 3 and 4 are on this first release of a Scriabin Symphony cycle (I’m assuming a two disc cycle). The 4th Symphony’s more common name is ‘The Poem of Ecstasy’ and is one of the most refulgent and sensuous works played by a full symphony orchestra. The Symphony No. 3 also has a name: ‘The Divine Poem’.

No, 3 is a standard three movement work composed by an expert composer versed the in the works of Tchaikovsky, Debussy and even Elgar. Lots of up and down with pleasant melodies, gentle chirping birds among the flora and fauna in the languid second, and a bit of a bacchanal for a finale. All of this very well played by the LSO. Gergiev’s concerts are best experienced live, but the recording gets the gist and certainly the evocative nature of the score. 

The Poem of Ecstasy (I still have a hard time thinking of this one movement representation of quality foreplay and a hell of an orgasm as a symphony). No matter. The music is fantastic — by far Scriabin’s finest orchestral work and is also very well played by the LSO. 

The recordings, taken from the home base Barbican is, as usual, flat, quite detailed, with, I’m sure, a lot of fixing in the mix. Come on Sir Simon, get that amazing hall built for these amazing musicians. The LSO engineers do there very best, but just imagine this orchestra in the Concertgebouw or Musikvererin?