Hello to you music fans, one and all!
Well, January is my self-proclaimed Celebrate Scriabin Month and we are continuing the festivities! Tonight you will hear two awesome piano sonatas that are certainly of his “middle” period — and things are getting more twisted by the measure as he dives deep into his metaphysical approach to sonority, harmony, and programmes.
Sonata No. 5 is one of his most notable and iconic — starting as it does with an opening of restless trills that finish in a sweeping arc of notes up the keyboard that vanish into “thin air”… It is also his first sonata that is in one movement, as scored (though one could say that the 4th sonata paves the way with its “Attacca” jump without break into the second movement — it really feels connected and continuous). Moreover, it points a clear path to what was to follow in his later piano sonatas.
Things start getting weird in his 6th sonata, composed in 1911 (four years after no. 5). First, his tempo and “mood” indication is “Modéré: mysterieux, concentré.” So “mysterious” it’s supposed to be… Then it gets even weirder (I say this in the most honorable sense regarding Mr. Scriabin, by the way)… He interrupts our languid “dream” with punctuated horrific moments, which Scriabin himself marked in the score as ”l’épouvante surgit” — or a “surge of terror.” Not many composers were creating a quasi-program like this in their music at that time, folks!
And the strangest thing is that this piece itself scared the bajeezers out of Scriabin himself: It is the only sonata he never performed in public. It is said that when he tried playing it in private company or with friends, he would stop after a few measures and could not go on. Scary stuff, indeed!
Apart from that, like I did last week, I will present some works of other contemporaries of Scriabin who are famous in their own right. I hope this will help frame one unique his oeuvre became in the last 10 or so years of his short life.
Enjoy tonight’s episode of Classical Tune-Up — and thanks for listening!
14 January Entry:
Well, January is my self-proclaimed Celebrate Scriabin Month. And why not? And why not? First, this great Russian composer — primarily of the 20th Century — was born in January (1872) and, moreover, he died in 1915, which also makes this the centenary of his way-too-premature departure from Earth. Where he went from there, we’ll never know, but his music might help point the way to it!
Mr. Scriabin’s work cuts a pretty clear path of evolution, from student-esque compositions to his advanced concepts found in works like Prometheus: The Poem of Fire and The Poem of Ecstasy, and a major unfinished work for orchestra, Mysterium. Influenced as he was in the philosophy of Nietsche and the Theosophy movement, his music took a definite “mystical” angle based on his views of the artist/musician as someone who could evoke and represent something beyond the mere corporeal — evoking altogether new perceptions — and transport us to another kind of realm of experience. What a guy!
Tonight, I will continue to present his works, playing piano sonatas nos. 3 & 4, and some other works by various famous artists. I will continue this journey with you during the rest of this month!
And here’s a very cool video of none other than Glenn Gould performing several of Scriabin’s preludes for piano:
Enjoy tonight’s episode of Classical Tune-Up