I want to extend my greetings to all of you and to wish you a successful and healthy 2015!
Here is the summary of my 2014 activities, which proved exciting, eventful and career advancing for me. After my first six years of service on the music faculty of California State University Northridge, I was awarded my first sabbatical in the spring semester of 2014. My main project was to study and tour different venues in the US and abroad with a recital program of works by the visionary Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), whose memorial centenary was approaching. As a Muscovite, I have grown up with this music and have sustained an enduring interest and passion for it. I wanted to use the sabbatical as an opportunity to share this singular body of works with the world! My resume lists my being a founding member of the Scriabin Society of America, and back in 1990s I performed cycles of the master's works, including his ten sonatas.
Apart from the April 2015 memorial (see review), it is clear to me that while the music of this Russian symbolist remains relevant today, it is far from being widely known in all its scope of creativity. Monographic recitals of Scriabin's oeuvre are virtually unknown in the West, yet the music itself, so varied stylistically in terms of its language and genres, lends itself well for such an overview.
Scriabin was a visionary composer, emblematic of the trends of the turn of the 20th century: what Debussy was to French music, Schoenberg - to the German Austrian tradition, Scriabin was to Russia - a musical explorer and a revolutionary, a bridge from the artistic mentality of the nineteenth century to that of the twentieth. Scriabin's music encompasses a stylistic progression from his adolescent Chopinesque works to the futuristic compositions of 1910s, standing at the forefront of the early 20th century avant-garde. During his meteoric rise Scriabin's music evolved, absorbing Liszt's innovative forms, adopting Wagner's ideas of Gesamtkunstwerk, and embracing synesthesia, the association of sounds with colors, as in his groundbreaking orchestral tone poem Prometheus: the Poem of Fire, as well as delving into spiritual mysticism. Scriabin's projected Mysterium was to combine various types of arts and involve all human senses to transcend the humanity in a spiritual orgiastic final act. The composer, whose life ended abruptly at the age of 43, never realized his dream! Yet Scriabin's unique musical language left its imprint directly or indirectly on the music of such composers as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Szymanowski, Messiaen, Ciurlionis and others.
Piano was Scriabin's main medium. He lived and breathed it, expressing his innermost thoughts, sensations and feelings through the ivory keys. That is where he made musical discoveries, experimenting with the harmonies and special sound effects, creating inimitable sonorities, impressions and characters. So idiomatic is his writing, that pianists, from Sergei Rachmannoff, (Scriabin's classmate) and Vladimir Horowitz to Evgeny Kissin, Arcady Volodos, Yuja Wang and many others today, continue to be mesmerized by and perform Scriabin's music.
My project started in my pre-sabbatical fall 2013 semester, when I presented this program for the first time to the CSUN community on my September 28 faculty recital series, and then performed it October ’13 at Saddleback College and Sacramento State University. My Odyssey continued through the entire semester on fourteen US campuses, four international concert venues and two Music Teachers' conferences, later having been featured in two venues in China and continuing to the current season.