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
Total time: 01:09:33
|Original Recording Format|
Thomas Wolden, Vegard Landaas
OSLO CONCERT HALL, 8–12 MAY AND 4–8 SEPTEMBER 2017
|Release Date||November 28, 2018|
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.
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.
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.
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