[f_minor] Scriabin

James Wright gzarlino at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 31 14:15:13 PST 2012

I completely agree, Fred.  But Jorgen's point is well taken, and I think it was directed at Michael's reply rather than at your initial statement.  We can certainly agree to disagree on matters of taste.  But in my view Gould was, above all, one of cultural history's greatest advocates and exemplars of the power of creativity and original insight.  I'm sorry, Michael, but describing Scriabin's music as "Mickey Mouse" or "lot of impressive motion and noise, but not much else," sounds a bit anti-creative to me.  I guess I might be equally defensive of Gould's Mozart recordings, for similar reasons.  They're certainly not to my taste, generally, but it's so fascinating to listen to a deeply creative mind at work, that I think any judgements I might feel like passing on them are almost beside the point.  In part, my defence of Scriabin (and Scriabin's 5th) is coming from a similar place.  In my view, Scriabin is an immensely important creative figure in the early twentieth century.  Like Jorgen, I guess I just don't see the point in disparaging or ranking powerfully important creative figures who gave their lives to their art, and their art to us. J.

James K. Wright, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor
School for Studies in Art & Culture: Music
A917 Loeb Building, Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1S 5B6
Email: James_Wright at carleton.ca
 Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2012 15:47:16 -0500
From: fred.houpt at rbc.com
To: f_minor at glenngould.org
Subject: Re: [f_minor] Scriabin

I for one did not compare Scriabin to Bach and it would seem to me 
a useless exposition.  Bach was entirely wonderful and is without a doubt a 
pillar of the Western canon of art.  Scriabin was not but that doesn't 
reduce him to poverty and disuse.  He has his place and in my view he is 
best viewed as a moderately important romantic Russian, who stands (in my view) 
below Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.  
As for berating, people do so when in fact it's just an 
opinion.  We all know we're just expressing an opinion...there are no 
absolute rights or wrongs in musical appreciation.
Fred Houpt

From: f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org 
[mailto:f_minor-bounces at glenngould.org] On Behalf Of Jörgen 
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 3:40 PM
Discussion of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.
Subject: Re: [f_minor] 

I still don't understand the need to berate things one doesn't 
appreciate. If Gould, Horowitz, Richter, Sofronitsky, Feinberg, Berman, Hamelin 
etc., et.c. felt that Scriabin was worth the effort, I don't feel there's any 
point calling his music "lot of impressive motion and noise, but not much else". 
Gould did on several occations rate Scriabin highly, especially compared with 
many contemporary composers. Also, I don't see the point of comparing Scriabin 
or most other composers with Bach. The latter had such immense influence over 
music history and wrote so many seminal works that only Beethoven and Mozart cut 
the mustard in my humble opinion.

Let's instead talk of things we like, 
and what Gould did or could have brought to that music.



  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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