Scriabin: Symphony No 3, The Poem of Ecstasy

Le Poeme de l’extase, op.54
Symphony No.3 -- Le Divin Poeme, op.43
Mikhail Pletnev, conductor
DG 459 681-2
Purchase via RNO


Classical CD of the Week: The Telegraph, London



'When you listen to The Poem of Ecstasy', Scriabin advised, 'look straight into the eye of the Sun', and he made sure that Ecstasy was orchestrated in such a way as to burn itself onto the consciousness. Whether by design or not, and without leaving you with tinnitus, this new performance, in its moments of joyful - and finally tintinnabular - climactic clamour, does just that. There is a sensational resolve from (and resolution for) the horns as they eventually take over and expand the trumpets' assertions and reach for the heights. And, thankfully, Pletnev, his fearless players and his engineers have left room to maximize this moment of arrival.
... The opening moments here are mesmeric because they are both fluid and wonderfully precise. ... These Russians offer a chamber-like intimacy, delicacy and clarity for all the interweaving solo lines and impressionist hazes, and perfectly achieved nuances of shading and timing. There is also, as the piece progresses, an apparently intuitive understanding of how much to vary the languido and the volando (flying) elements of the score, how they relate to each other, and how they fit into the scheme of things. ...
For the Third Symphony's much grander ... quest for the liberation of the spirit, ... Pletnev's is a patient and carefully modulated discourse, dignified of bearing (dignity is very much on the agenda in this symphony), never spoiling the Western oriented euphony with added percussion (as do so many other Russians ... ), and keeping a cool head and the longer view. ...

Fanfare Magazine

... Pletnev's reading of Scriabin's mystical Symphony No. 3 ... begins forcefully with vibrant power, and one is immediately struck by the rich, expansive textures of the terrific DG sound. ... The playing of the Russian National Orchestra lacks nothing in strength or ballast, and the sleek, silky sonority is as polished and gleaming as ever. ... The orchestra performs superbly, with wonderfully vibrant playing by the ... solo trumpet.
... [In] the Poem of Ecstasy-also known as the Symphony No. 4 in some quarters ... the power and intensity of this performance ... lacks nothing in fire or commitment, and Pletnev captures the surging, restless sensuality of this music so well. ... Pletnev builds the long closing section to a magnificent peroration, bells, organ, and gleaming brass all audible even in the most untrammeled pages.
... Pletnev's recording of the Poem of Ecstasy is first-class. ...

BBC Music

... More than anyone before him on disc, Pletnev brings out the essence of the poetic and descriptive injunctions with which Scriabin peppers his score. ... His masterly direction of his hand-picked orchestra reaps rewards in the emotional sweep with which he expounds the music's intent, and it's a performance with languor but without longueur. Moreover, The Divine Poem's congestion of textures which have always offered problems to conductors and sound engineers have never been solved as successfully as they are here.
... Pletnev's performance, recorded two years earlier than the Third Symphony and with a different sound team, provides an even more viscerally exciting experience, one with drive and seductiveness in equal measure.

What They’re Saying

"They played with such captivating beauty that the audience let out an involuntary sigh of pleasure at the end."

Evening Standard, London