Michèle Gurdal plays Scriabin

Michèle Gurdal plays études by Alexander Scriabin on a C. Bechstein D 282 concert grand piano. The title of the CD, Extase, is evidence that such works are much more than just studies for her.

In the booklet of the CD (Challenge Classics, n° CC72640), the young Belgian-Japanese pianist states: “It is important to know that for Scriabin, ecstasy had primarily a spiritual dimension and its erotic nature played only a secondary role. I chose the title Extase to emphasise this aspect of his music: indeed, the longing for ectasy characterises many of his études“.

This recording, produced by Piotr Furmanczyk, includes the famous Études Op. 2 No.1 in C sharp minor, the twelve Études Op. 8, the eight Études Op. 42 and Études Op. 65 No. 2 and 3. The CD was recorded at the Berlin-Britz Manor on a C. Bechstein D 282 concert grand piano, prepared by Torben Garlin to render a particularly warm and colourful sound.

Gurdal did not opt for a Bechstein grand by chance, as she states: “Scriabin favoured Bechstein pianos and he owned one. [...] He loved the transparent, elegant and warm voice of the Bechstein grands; such instruments also inspire me”.

With her new CD, Michèle Gurdal recounts Scriabin’s career from Romanticism to Impressionism to early modern classical music. However, the size of her hands prevented her from recording the Étude Op. 65 No. 1: “A pianist needs large hands to be able to span the ninths. Although he was a virtuoso, Scriabin himself had the same problem. He couldn’t play this étude because his span was not broad enough”. The pianist needs large hands to be able to spread the ninths. Scriabin was himself a great virtuoso, but had the same problem. He couldn’t play theses Etudes himself because his spread was not big enough.