Hello, my name is Slava Poprugin. I’m not a pianist. I have been playing piano for over 40 years, I give concerts, I teach at the Hague Royal Conservatory, I record musicians in my studio in the Netherlands and I can’t call myself a pianist. I identify as a “musician”.
For this, I owe thanks to my teachers that I’d like to mention here – Marina Ternovskaya and Larisa Tokareva in my home-city of Khabarovsk and Alexander Alexandrov at the Moscow Gnessin Academy. As well I would like to extend my thanks to my colleagues at the time when I taught at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory – Natalia Gutman and Alexey Lubimov, who became my stage partners for many years. During that same period, my passion for the art of recording brought on a collaboration with the sound- engineer Alexander Krasheninnikov whom I consider to be my mentor in this field.
I have certainly not had a straight or simple professional path. However I believe that, having avoided the “mainstream”, or any sort of “stream”, really, I have gained the freedom to be ultimately sincere in all the things I’m doing.
Already during my childhood, I became absorbed in Scriabin’s universe and fascinated with the idea of embracing the transformation of his style in one concert. With this program, I draw together pieces that are connected through the realisation of similar ideas in Scriabin’s different stylistic periods. For example, the pathetic, rebellious line is drawn in the Etude Op.8, No.12, Prelude Op.11,
No.14, Prelude Op.27, No.1, Poeme Op.32, No.2, Preludes Op.48, Nos.1&4 and going to Op.74. The theme of erotic sensibility engulfs pieces from Op.1 and culminates in Op.57. Scriabin’s bestiary is represented by the pieces Op.22, No.3, Op.52, No.2, Op.63, No.2: here, light butterfly-like shapes transform into what Sabaneev calls in his memoir of Scriabin “some small winged creature, half- woman, half-insect, but necessarily female; it is somewhat spiky and twisted, and a little disjointed.”
Op.74 holds a special place in this programme. It is the last opus Scriabin completed, and it sounds as if it was an abstract of his Mysterium – from the bells tolling in the first movement, to the universal collapse in the last one.
This CD was recorded in 2017 in my own Steppenwolf studio, on the 1897 Bechstein concert grand piano from the Andriessen Collection Haarlem. Being both the performer and the sound engineer of this recording, I have tried my best to preserve all the finest nuances of this wonderfully and lovingly restored piano.
—Slava Poprugin (transl. by Elizaveta Miller)