Scriabin: Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - Symphony No. 5, Op. 60 (Prometheus - The Poem of Fire) (2018)

Scriabin

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Gerstein

Vasily Petrenko

Come, all peoples of the world,
Let us sing the praises of Art!
Glory to Art, Glory forever! 
(Excerpt of the words in the final movement of Alexander Scriabin’s Symphony No. 1)

There was no doubting the young Russian composer Alexander Scriabin’s (1872–1915) high ambitions when he presented his first symphony to the public. With its sixmovement, hour-length duration, incorporating a grandiose choral finale, complex chromatic harmonic language and self-composed text paying tribute to the universal greatness of art, Scriabin made a grand entrance on the international symphonic stage. Beethoven’s ninth might well have served as a model, but the symphony’s harmonic language owes more to Tchaikovsky, Strauss, and above all, Wagner. For Scriabin, this grand symphonic project was the start of an even greater artistic plan. His ambitions reached far beyond the traditional boundaries of music and into the realm of philosophy and existentialism.

Russian composer, philosopher and mystic Alexander Scriabin was one of the most eccentric and mystic figures of the age of modernism. His innovative sounds and utopian ideas challenged not only performers and audiences of the time, but also the boundaries of our thinking, the categories of history, and the limitations of art. His apparently egocentric view of the world, his megalomania and delusions have been psychoanalyzed, ridiculed and dismissed. He genuinely believed that art in general, and his own music in particular, could change the world and raise humankind to a higher level of awareness. His plan was that his musical oeuvre would culminate with Mysterium, a work that was to be performed at the foot of the Himalayas, in which all art forms came together, time and space dissolved and all present participated in a spectacular transcendence.

from: Liner Notes written by Thomas Erma Møller

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Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

On 27 September 1919, a new orchestra took to the stage of the old Logan Hall in Oslo to give its first public concert. Conductor Georg Schnéevoigt presided over thrilling performances of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Christian Sinding’s First Symphony. After forty years of making-do, the Norwegian capital had at last got the orchestra it deserved. The Oslo Philharmonic was born. 

In the eight months that followed, the Oslo Philharmonic gave 135 concerts, most of which sold out. It tackled passionate Mahler, glistening Debussy and thrusting Nielsen. Soon, world famous musicians were coming to conduct it, relishing its youth and enthusiasm. Igor Stravinsky and Maurice Ravel visited Oslo to coach the musicians through brand new music. National broadcaster NRK began to hang microphones at the orchestra’s concerts, transmitting them to the whole of Norway. 

 

Over the next half-century, the Oslo Philharmonic’s reputation grew steadily. Then, in 1979, it changed forever. A young Latvian arrived in Norway, taking the orchestra apart section-by-section, putting it back together a finely tuned machine with a whole new attitude. Under Mariss Jansons, the orchestra became a rival to the great Philharmonics of Vienna, Berlin and New York. It was soon playing everywhere, from Seattle to Salzburg, Lisbon to London. Back home in Oslo, it got a modern, permanent concert hall of its own. In 1986, EMI drew up the largest orchestral contract in its history, ensuring the world would hear the rich, visceral sound of the Oslo Philharmonic. 

 

 

Kirill Gerstein

Kirill Gerstein’s curiosity and versatility has led to an intense engagement with a wide range of repertoire and styles. From Bach to Adès, his playing is distinguished by its clarity of expression, discerning intelligence and virtuosity. Gerstein’s energetic and imaginative musical personality has taken him rapidly to the top of his profession. 2015 saw the release of the world premiere recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in the composer`s own final version from 1879. The recording won an ECHO Klassik award and was nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Award. Based in Berlin, Kirill Gerstein appears world-wide in performances ranging from concerts with the Chicago and Cleveland Orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, to recitals in London, Paris and New York. He is the sixth recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award, presented every four years to an exceptional pianist who, regardless of age or nationality, possesses broad and profound musicianship and charisma, and who performs internationally at the highest level. The prize enabled Gerstein to commission new works by Oliver Knussen, Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, Brad Mehldau and Timothy Andres.

photo: from album booklet

Vasily Petrenko

After just one week working with Vasily Petrenko in 2009, the Oslo Philharmonic invited the Russian conductor to be its fifteenth Principal Conductor. At a landmark concert in Oslo on 28 August 2013, Petrenko was inaugurated in his new role conducting Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Vasily Petrenko is one of the most significant and galvanizing musicians alive. He became famous for his transformative work at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the oldest orchestra in the United Kingdom, where he refashioned the orchestra’s sound, reconnected the organization to its home city and presided over a huge increase in ticket sales. He quickly came to represent a new generation of conductors ready to combine their uncompromising artistic work with a passion for communication and inclusion. Vasily was born in St Petersburg in 1976 and trained at the city’s famous conservatoire. As a student, he took part in a masterclass with Mariss Jansons, the conductor who helped establish the Oslo Philharmonic as one of the great orchestras of the world. After winning a handful of competitions, Vasily became Chief Conductor of the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra in 2004 and later principal guest conductor at the city’s Mikhailovsky Theatre. Vasily is one of the most acclaimed classical recording artists alive and has won numerous accolades for his recordings of Russian repertoire, including two Gramo-phone awards. In 2017 he received the Gramophone Award Artist of the Year. With the Oslo Philharmonic, he has recorded Shostakovich and Szymanowski concertos, Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, and a major new cycle of orchestral works by Alexander Scriabin, of which this release is the last in the series of three CDs. Vasily has conducted the London, Sydney, Chicago, Vienna, San Francisco, and NHK Symphony Orchestras as well as the Russian National Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. In February 2018 he made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He has conducted at the Zurich, Paris and Hamburg Operas and at Glyndebourne. At Oslo Konserthus, Vasily provides the backbone of the Oslo Philharmonic’s subscription series. He has conducted the orchestra in London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Berlin, Vienna, Bratislava, Dublin, Paris, Tokyo, Edinburgh, San Sebastian, Santander, Hong Kong and Taipei.

photo: from booklet Scriabin Symphonies Nos. 1 & 5

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Scriabin: Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - Symphony No. 5, Op. 60 (Prometheus - The Poem of Fire) (2018)

Scriabin

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Gerstein

    Gramophone

Never discursive or splashy, Petrenko’s forensic view of the composer may not please those brought up on Soviet-era music-making but I found it very persuasive.

    Presto Classical

The lion’s share of the solo work in [the First Symphony] falls to the woodwind, and the principal clarinettist who so impressed James in the orchestra’s recording of the Second Symphony is the star of the show once again in the Tristanesque stretches of the long third movement in particular...The Oslo Philharmonic Choir sing with such conviction that even Scriabin’s slightly toe-curling purple prose about the transcendent nature of art comes across with a certain dignity...Petrenko brings often astonishing clarity to a score which can easily seem overblown.

[read full review]

    The Guardian

Petrenko and his orchestra certainly do their best to tease out the teeming, tumbling textures of the First Symphony, but, with Kirill Gerstein as the solo pianist, it’s their performance of Prometheus, one of Scriabin’s greatest achievements, that stands out. It is filled with flickering detail, ricocheting between piano and orchestra, to create the febrile, trill-filled world so instantly identifiable as that of late Scriabin.

Scriabin: Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - Symphony No. 5, Op. 60 (Prometheus - The Poem of Fire) (2018)

Scriabin

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Gerstein

Producer: Andrew Walton
Recording Engineer: Thomas Wolden, Vegard Landaas
Recording location: OSLO CONCERT HALL, 8–12 MAY AND 4–8 SEPTEMBER 2017

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LWC1160: Scriabin: Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - Symphony No. 5, Op. 60 (Prometheus - The Poem of Fire)
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Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - I. Lento
Scriabin
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Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - II. Allegro dramatico
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Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - III. Lento
Scriabin
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Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - IV. Vivace
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Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - V. Allegro
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Symphony No. 1, Op. 26 - VI. Andante
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Symphony No. 5, Op. 60 - Prometheus - The Poem of Fire
Scriabin
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