Alexander Scriabin died a century ago but still seems very much a part of our time. This hour is dedicated to the visionary Russian pianist and composer.
Scriabin is fascinating in his musical inventiveness – and in his later works, his bent towards mysticism and interest in multimedia.
The composer’s only piano concerto dates from 1896, when he was 24. Like most people in Russia at the time, he was enthused about Chopin – and one can hear Chopinesque sounds in this concerto – but Scriabin’s own musical signature as well. As the music unfolds, the soloist quickly joins the fray, and after introducing the melancholy main theme, is interlocked with the orchestra. The second movement has a folksy sound, and the third has virtuoso runs that build in drama and span the keyboard. “Had he lived today, who knows what he might have been able to create?” says pianist Joseph Moog in reference to Scriabin’s imaginative plans for multi-media creations that would stimulate all five of the human senses. Scriabin’s “Vers la flamme” for piano solo is based on a vision in which heat grows in intensity until it engulfs the world. Beginning in the lower registers, the piece gradually swings upwards to the highest heights. During that, various sound levels move over each other like tectonic plates, with many tremolos and fanfares in between.
Scriabin shared his obsession with a total work of art with composer Richard Wagner, whose idea was to incorporate music, dance, architecture and artwork in his music dramas. The opera “Tristan and Isolde” is an answer to Wagner’s own extramarital love affair, but it also derives from a Celtic tale. The result is a work about love and death, hope and desperation, day and night.
Piano Concerto in F-sharp Minor, op. 20
Vers la flamme (Toward the Flame), op. 72
Overture to Tristan and Isolde
Joseph Moog, piano
Bochum Symphony Orchestra
Steven Sloane, conductor
Recorded by Deutschlandfunk, Cologne (DLF) in the Konzerthaus in Dortmund on June 15, 2015
Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before December 6, 2016