[f_minor] Scriabin

Houpt, Fred fred.houpt at rbc.com
Tue Jan 31 12:43:19 PST 2012

Salute Michael:
it's funny you know, because I mostly like Scriabin piano works, or at
least to be fair, those that I've heard.  Most of it is quite melodic
and as usual my initial reaction to the starkness or lack of flowing
melody was a turn off for me.  Which could open up a whole can of worms,
discussion wise, for what constitutes a melody?  Philip Glass, whose
75'th birthday it is today (long may he write more) created melodies
that HAL9000 computers would enjoy, where the "line" is but a fragment
that repeats for about 89 bars, with hardly a fluctuation.  Yet, we love
Glass's music because of other qualities.  I simply adore his violin
concerto and the soundtrack to Powwaqatsi I've listened to a hundred
I wanted to draw our attention to something I had never heard before.  I
heard someone play a section of it on one of the classical music
internet stations I listen to and I was interested...and downloaded the
sheet music from my usual source, all legal, and took it home to play.
It was practically unplayable and ferocious.  It is Tchaikovsky's Piano
Sonata.  I turned next to You Tube and found a recording by master
Richter who practically tore his piano apart playing it.  The piece is
hideous, ugly and as atypical of P.I.T. as you can possibly imagine.
What the heck he was feeling when he wrote it I just can't fathom.  It
is also super, duper difficult from a technical level and it is no
wonder that no one plays it on the concert circuit.  It's ugly music,
plain and simple, in my view.  It, like most music, has a melody, but it
must be the one they sing in Hades.  
Back to GG, of course his musical choices (for recording) are still
somewhat of a surprise, both those chosen and those excluded.  He plays
one or two Chopin pieces, steam rolling them into the ground but avoids
Rachmaninoff, even the smaller solo pieces; I can't understand why?  I
don't believe he recorded any Debussy, but he recorded Ravel.  I think
he might have recorded one or two Mendelssohn small things but avoided
the rest of the familiar chestnuts.  Why?  He chose only a few Haydn
sonatas and they are divine and yet he nearly assassinates Mozart's
familiar sonatas.  He performed no Czerny or other contemporaries of
Beethoven, unless I'm mistaken here.  His attraction to the 20'th
century atonalists is also odd to me.  The Hindemith is passably melodic
but the Schoenberg I can't stand.  He also avoided lots of other
Russians including Kabalevsky, Shostakovich and Khachaturian.  If he
liked atonal or weird (to me) music then why didn't he play Stockhausen
or Charles Ives?  Anyway, too many words already.
Kind regards,
Fred Houpt


From: f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org
[mailto:f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org] On Behalf Of michael macelletti
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 3:16 PM
To: Discussion of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.; gail paynter
Subject: Re: [f_minor] Scriabin

bravo, fred !!!   you have said it perfectly. and your instincts are
correct. don't feel you have to re-listen to scriabin to find what you
have been told you missed. for you have missed nothing.  you won't find
much more the second time around.         don't get me wrong.  mr
scriabin offered a breakthrough ( or continuation ) in the destruction
of key, and the chance to play the world's hardest piece, according to
s. richter.  ( the only problem  with the latter is that now EVERY
pianist plays it to deserve that prestige ).    and there are very
impressive clusters of musical color. but the problem is that it's a
little like mickey mouse , the sorcerer.  a lot of impressive motion and
noise, but not much else.------ in the same league with your bach ?
nope,  not a chance.          


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