News & Reviews

Please find some highlights from reviews of my Scriabin Sonata recordings from professional journals:

...Bengtson is a remarkable artist. ... Big-boned pianism, rich tonal colors, and dazzling technique are on display here. Has Scriabin ever been played better? Only Horowitz and Richter can compare to what Bengtson achieves on this disc. ... exciting music-making.
(.. Lawrence Budmen, American Record Guide, July/August 2005, on Scriabin Sonatas, Romeo Records 7232)
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The superlative review Bengtson garnered 10 years ago can only be echoed here. ... The 40-ish pianist is very active as a teacher in the Philadelphia area, lecturer, author and recitalist. Based on his Scriabin alone, I will go out of my way to see him in concert. ... I heard clarity and voicings in Bengtson’s playing that were new, and I have been listening to Scriabin’s piano sonatas for well over 40 years. These performances are ones to compare others to. I hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years for more Scriabin from Romeo and Bengtson.
(.. James Harrington, American Record Guide, August/September 2015, on Scriabin Sonatas Vol. II)
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... the sensuous weave of Scriabin’s visionary palette remains palpable in Bengtson’s rendition. ... The sheer color range - especially in the high-register trills and arabesques - of this rarely performed sonata (no. 6) warrants the price of admission.

... Bengtson joins those Scriabin acolytes - Horowitz, Sofronitzky, Richter, Berman, Barere, Neuhaus - who relish the solipsistic mystic for his own audacious personality, his liberated subjectivity. We spend with Bengtson over an hour in a rarified labyrinth, infinitely and ineffably compelling.
(.. Gary Lemco,, March 2015)
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These performances show that Bengtson grasps Scriabin’s emotional world with acute understanding, and his feeling for the later pieces ... is especially revelatory. Despite the great complexity of lines, cross-rhythms, and dissonances that make Scriabin’s music daunting, Bengtson shapes it with poetic sensitivity and precision, putting these recordings among the finest contemporary interpretations.
(.. Blair Sanderson,, 2015)

Matthew Bengtson has not only cultivated the transcendent technical apparatus indispensable for performing Scriabin, but has assumed intellectual responsibility for its interpretation.
.. Bengtson offers some of the most authoritative and electrifying readings of the sonatas (and a few of the miniature character pieces) in memory. Here is a pianist of extraordinary depth and imagination, whose way with this music is at once unique, satisfying, and interpretively unimpeachable.
.. it is the rare musical mind and even rarer pianist who, like Bengtson, is capable of mastering such complex music.
.. In these finely chiseled performances one can trace the work’s form as it takes shape. It is rather like admiring and evaluating a great painting at just enough distance to appreciate its content while allowing the whole to move in on us.
.. But it is the Eighth Sonata, which is the most difficult of the lot, that he pulls out all the stops in a performance so astonishing, deftly detailed, and rhythmically compelling as to out-Sofronitsky Sofronitsky’s performance, which until now was incomparable. In this remarkably intense performance, Bengtson propels it relentlessly forward as if in a single breath.
.. Bengtson offers a few miniatures, including the often played Poem Op 32 No 1, which he plays to perfection and with incomparable elegance.
.. Bengtson is a Scriabinist for the 21st century, one who embraces the interpretive objectives most valued by his contemporaries among composers, theorists, and performers. ... Bengtson, who imitates no one, has synthesized the most persuasive elements that the best Scriabin interpreters - Fyodorova, Vedernikov, Zhukov, and Horowitz among them - have set forth over a century. To that end, he can now join those esteemed Scriabinists upon whom future generations can rely for definitive interpretations.
(.. John Bell Young, Fanfare magazine, July/August 2015)
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Bengtson does a splendid job on the (5th) sonata, eliciting all the color and light in the music that one expects. .. he miraculously balances the tricky syncopations with perfect aplomb. .. all of the acknowledged great pianists who have tackled these sonatas have their own take on them, ... and Matthew Bengtson can hold his own with any of them. .. The bottom line is that this is a fine set of the Scriabin sonatas, and Bengtson also plays the extra pieces on CD 2 with just the right feeling. Since I personally listen for the mysticism or implied mysticism in Scriabin, not brute force, I am more than happy with his recordings .. an excellent set of the Scriabin sonatas, and I recommend it.
(.. Lynn Rene Bayley, Fanfare, July/August 2015)

Appropriately hailed as a “musician’s pianist,” Bengtson has created a recording that is supremely colorful and expressive as a result of his keen attention to Scriabin’s idiosyncratic tempo and character markings as well as his exact rhythmic accuracy. (in Poeme op. 32 no. 1) he captures a dialogue between the voices that isn’t heard in most recordings. Overall, I find Bengtson’s recent recording to be a musically compelling and accurate rendering of Scriabin’s piano sonatas. I recommend it.
(.. Natalie Piontek, Fanfare, July/August 2015)

Bengtson’s wise approach is to allow the music to speak for itself; there is more than enough drama and dazzle already in the score. Furthermore, his more straightforward approach gives him the leeway to concentrate on such crucial elements as pacing and rhythmic inflection, areas in which these performances really excel. Bengtson has a knack for finding a natural pulse and tempo in his readings, a subtle quality .. that is essential for making the music spring to life. That sense of momentum is also abetted by Bengtson’s seemingly easy mastery of the quirky rhythms of the music. (.. Peter Burwasser, Broad Street Review, November 2015)

... Bengtson can caress Scriabin’s phrases in a breathtaking way ... these performances are often striking in their color. (.. Peter J. Rabinowitz, Fanfare, July/August 2005 on Romeo 7232)

Matthew Bengtson, whose devotion to the music of Scriabin is equaled only by his authority as a leading harpsichordist and fortepianist, has been turning the heads of both critics and the public. His recent recordings of the complete Scriabin sonatas emerged as if out of nowhere not only to unanimous critical acclaim, but to the astonishment of his colleagues as well. Devotees of the composer, both here and in Russia, have not heard this music played with comparable power and finesse since Vladimir Sofronitsky. On this side of the pond, more than one critic has compared Bengtson to Horowitz, and with good reason: he commands a transcendental technique wed to an impeccable musical understanding and imagination.
(.. John Bell Young, Fanfare magazine interview, July/August 2015)

Scriabin Complete Piano Sonatas

Scriabin Complete Piano Sonatas, Vol. II