/ deutsch / english

Extracts from the international press

Alexander Scriabin
Erkki Melartin
Alfred Schnittke



Maria Lettberg conquers the Everest of Scriabin’s copmplete piano music. Surveying Scriabin is a journey beset by problems but it’s tackled with relish here. ‘Obsessive patterns, harmonies and intervals seem to spin in interstellar space’. This is an invaluable issue and a formidable achievement finely recorded.


The rather unassuming slimline box in which this set is presented hides a vast world of musical invention and discovery, both in the incredible variety of Alexander Scriabin‘s work, and the remarkably high quality interpretations of Maria Lettberg.
The recordings proper are very well done indeed, the piano sound rich and vibrant, and the studio acoustic proving pretty much ideal - not so dry as to be tiring, not so reverberant that detail is obscured in the thicker textures. The interpretations, while described as ‘unique and original‘, are actually in no way shockingly unconventional.
Lettberg’s playing allows the music to speak for itself a little more, the sense of abstraction possibly indicating a more intellectual approach. There is a searching among the notes more for questions than for answers - a sense of the moment, rather than that of a definitive statement.
Lettberg is clearly well up to the task in these works: one never gets the sense that her technique is strained in any way, and so it is the sense of being able to move beyond the notes into the kinds of spiritual planes sought by Scriabin that we have to look for to make these more than merely satisfactory recordings. There are qualities in her playing which will have you re-discovering old favourites, and there are so many other little extras which cast the more famous pieces in broader or different lights, that you need at the very least to put it on your wish list.
MusicWeb International


[...] we have a pianist willing to shape the music most expressively. [...] Lettberg strikes just the right balance of light, shade, and color. Her mastery draws you into the composer’s world and finds an inevitability to much of the writing.
These performances can easily be placed alongside Ashkenazy and Marc-Andre Hamelin.
[...] What a journey of discovery this has been.
American Record Guide


It was about three years ago that I welcomed a Phoenix Edition disc of the Schnittke piano concertos in which Maria Lettberg was the excellent secondo to Ewa Kupiec’s primo in the Double Concerto. Her recorded repertoire choices have been intelligently informed by her grasp of the diversity of piano repertoire to which other celebrity pianists often seem deaf. In the interpretative hands of Maria Lettberg this music reaches its toweringly imaginative potential. Romantic flair immersed in fantasy and heroic spirit...
MusicWeb International


"Ewa Kupiec, the Umbrian Munich resident, and Maria Lettberg, the Swedish Berlin resident are mastering the score for four hands in a fulminantly, the Rundfunk Symphonie Orchester Berlin is accompanying in an exemplarily spirited way with the virtuosity demanded by its contrasts."
Die Neue Musikzeitung





Maria Lettberg


My first meeting with Scriabin's music was indirect-my mum had the complete recordings of Vladimir Sofronitsky, and I just listened to his music without knowing what pieces I had heard.

Then later, when studying in St Petersburg, I played Scriabin's Sonata No 1 and it felt like my own skin; I felt very comfortable with this music. So I played some more, and eventually played all his sonatas in recital. Capriccio then asked me to make a Scriabin recording - but they were not interested in just his sonatas, they were interested in recording all his solo piano music!

Some people said "this music is so psychologically demanding, it's dangerous music - do you feel OK?" But I also recorded Schnittke's Concerto for Piano Four Hands, and when I came back to Scriabin do you know what I discovered? Total harmony. Maybe if you play just Bach and Brahms, who are among my favourites, then you think Scriabin is so crazy, but no, I'm still OK. The paradox in Scriabin is that his music has tensions: between life and death, between sweetness and bitterness - always both together.

Scriabin used to write unusual instructions on his scores, in French. I'd read that one editor of his music had suggested removing these as they make your mind unclear. But I think these remarks actually give the key to interpreting his music and it's very important for the performer to take it seriously. It's very abstract -when you say "sadness", what does this mean? But it really gives you a lot of inspiration: words like forte or mezzo forte, they don't explain to you what kind of effects. Scriabin's words give you the feeling of how you have to do it. Knowing his background - I wrote a dissertation on Scriabin for my doctorate - helped me very much to understand his music and its aesthetic. Somehow, however, as a pianist I have to make my choice: and I pass from words to music...