Alexander Scriabin: Sonata No. 5, Op. 53 Pianist: Marc-Andre Hamelin

“Scriabin… Where does he come from?  And who are his forebears?” – Stravinsky

I can think of no other composer whose musical evolution spanned greater stylistic change than Scriabin.  His early works were rooted firmly in the romantic tradition, and earned him the sobriquet “The Russian Chopin”.  His later works were written, to quote Wikipedia, in “an increasingly atonal musical language that presaged 12-tone composition and other serial music.”

Scriabin’s fifth sonata falls squarely in the middle of his stylistic development.  Written in 1907, it marks the end of his Romantic period and the beginning of his atonal period.

Performed here by the incomparable Marc-Andre Hamelin, the 5th is Scriabin’s most frequently programmed sonata, although Sviatoslav Richter (whose recording of it served as my introduction to this piece) is reported to have described it as the most difficult piece in the entire piano repertory.

Published in: on August 30, 2009 at 12:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Alexander Scriabin: Etude Op. 8 No. 12 Pianist: Vladimir Horowitz

Vladimir Horowitz (1903 – 1989) was one of my first heroes of the piano.  My first Horowitz record – perhaps even my first classical music purchase – was his astonishing “Homage to Liszt”, which features a hair-raising performance of the 6th Hungarian Rhapsody.  That album was followed by many others, including the double-LP “The Horowitz Collection”, which includes Scriabin’s Sonata No. 9, and “The Sound of Horowitz”, which introduced me to today’s selection, the Etude Op. 8 No. 12.

There is an ecstatic quality to much of Scriabin’s music that is extraordinarily compelling.  It is if Scriabin is struggling to express some violent ecstasy within, and while he succeeds to an extraordinary extent, one has the feeling that there is still more to be expressed, if only Scriabin could reach it.

Of all the great composers whose lives ended too early, surely none died more absurdly or needlessly than Scriabin, who died at age 43 from blood-poisoning caused by a boil on his lip.

Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Alexander Scriabin: Etude Op.42 No.5 Pianist: Irina Morozova

Alexander Scriabin

Alexander Scriabin

Alexander Scriabin (1872 – 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist and a contemporary of Rachmaninoff.  I first became acquainted with his music in high school through the records of Vladimir Horowitz, which fostered in me a love of Scriabin – surely among the most individual composers who ever lived – which continues to this day.

The Etude Op. 42 No. 5, played here by pianist Irina Morozova, is one of my favorite Scriabin pieces.  The tempo marking is “affanato”, which means “breathlessly”.  Truly an extraordinary piece.

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 7:39 am  Comments (2)  
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Hello – Welcome to “Derrick’s Blog”!

“Music isn’t enough.  Performers aren’t enough.  There must be someone who loves music as much as life.  For you, and remember this always, those of us with something urgent to say, we give everything.”

–  William Kapell

DPRThis blog is an outgrowth of my Facebook page, which I created  in early July 2009 primarily to share my love of classical music, which I tried to do via YouTube videos of selected artists and music.

My son David suggested that, for various reasons, a blog might be a better forum than Facebook for my “Video of the Day”.  David has had his own blog for some time, and understood its advantages better than I did.  One advantage that I see even at this early stage is that I won’t have to cope with the space limitations that I regularly encountered on Facebook.

I hope that my Facebook friends will forgive me for reprising many of the videos that I posted there.  Trust me: there will be a great deal of  new material as well, and it is my hope that both the old and new selections will reach a new audience here.  Besides, those videos are all worth a second look, aren’t they?

In addition to music, I look forward to sharing personal reflections, book and movie reviews, perhaps even a little poetry and autobiography.  Who knows: this blog may grow in ways I can’t foresee.

In any case, you, Gentle Reader, are encouraged to share your comments.  Nothing is so rewarding to a writer as feedback, so please, feel free to give yours.

Thanks for stopping by!


Published in: on August 22, 2009 at 6:53 am  Comments (12)