Classical Court

From Perotin to Prokofiev (and beyond), performed by Caruso to Khatia, it's all here.

Return to Classical Court


Message Sort: Post Order or Asylum Reverse Threaded

Scriabin's "Le poeme de l'extase" (Poem of Ecstasy). . . with choral parts???

77.111.246.6

Posted on February 16, 2021 at 01:11:44
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
Yup, you read that right. I was surfing around Qobuz earlier tonight and came across the recent Kitajenko / Gurzench-Orchester Koln recording of the work on the Oehms label. (The album also contains Scriabin's Second Symphony.) It features an "edition" of the Poem of Ecstasy (by Yuri Ahronovitch) which adds choral parts in the last minute or so of the music. According to the notes on the Qobuz site (which I'd guess are taken from the Oehms booklet), the choral singing makes the work "a flight of the soul with an orgiastic ending".

I was underwhelmed (IOW, I didn't feel any more orgiastic than I usually do) - but other listeners may feel differently! ;-)

 

Hide full thread outline!
    ...
RE: Scriabin's "Le poeme de l'extase" (Poem of Ecstasy). . . with choral parts???, posted on February 16, 2021 at 07:42:49
jdaniel@jps.net
Audiophile

Posts: 21983
Location: No. California
Joined: December 16, 2003
I'm a fan of Kitajenko, he mines more orchestral color out of Rach's Bells (Melodiya Lp '85) than the usual suspects of the analog era, Previn, etc.


I was very happy to acquire his latest Bells, which is equally colorful and descriptive, (those cold strings in the 2nd mov't) on Oehems. (sp)

My favorite Scriabin Poem is Sinopoli's white-hot performance with the NYPO on DGG. Best final chord, and should I mention...the merely "present" organ?

FWIW, most all of Sinopoli's work with the NYPO is enjoyable and fresh, without going off the rails. DGG seems to have had its better engineers on hand, as well.

I like Pletnev's organ better but a touch too much lingering before the final chord, (and some IMHO unnecessary compression?) takes a little of the ecstasy off the top.

 

Scriabin to me is like DSCH for you..., posted on February 16, 2021 at 09:42:28
krisjan
Reviewer

Posts: 874
Joined: May 6, 2001
...can't stand his "music". I've tried multiple times. Have given up on him.

 

You don't have to convince me about the virtues of Sinopoli's recordings! ;-), posted on February 16, 2021 at 10:35:34
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
As for Pletnev, I guess Amphissa's strictures on Pletnev still have an influence on me (although not 100% - I still re-purchased his Pentatone recording of Tanayev's "At the Reading of a Psalm"). But I have avoided his recordings of more standard repertoire where excellent alternatives are available.

Actually, I didn't say so in my OP on this thread, but the Kitajenko recording is very good for bringing out detail, but not so much for bringing out the sweep and passion of the work. As the Brits say, it "hangs fire" in a few places. (BTW, I just found out this morning that Ahronovitch, whose "edition" with the choral parts is used by Kitajenko, has his own recording of the work. It's apparently been around for years - on the Hanssler Profil label - and also includes his added choral parts. Somehow, I just missed it.)

I have a couple of faves of the work in connection with the MCh sound: Gergiev/LSO (on SACD) and Petrenko/Oslo (on a super hi-rez download - I forget now whether it's DXD or DSD256. But strangely enough, I think I prefer the Gergiev recording, despite the notorious Barbican acoustics - the Petrenko (on the Lawo label) sounds just a bit congested on my system (kind of unexpected, given its hi-rez credentials).

Going back to 2Ch, I've ended up with multiple recordings by both Svetlanov and Stokowski (some on the BBC label) which are also fantastic. (I feel that on Stokowski's famous Everest recording of the work with the Houston Symphony, the orchestra was a little light-weight at that time.) I remember liking the Mehta/LAPO recording (among the very first recordings which he did with the LAPO for Decca/London), and I'd love to hear the Maazel/Cleveland recording again, also on Decca/London. (I haven't heard it for decades.) Also, there's an outstanding recording with the BBC SO conducted by Sinaisky which originally appeared for free as part of BBC Music magazine - looks like it's available for cheap at Amazon right now. And finally, it's too bad that Monteux didn't get a chance to record the work in stereo:

 

You wouldn't say that if you were a pianist! ;-), posted on February 16, 2021 at 10:48:01
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
Seriously though, that's a real "entry way" to understanding Scriabin's music - playing it yourself. The idiom just gets to you after awhile. I once read about a music history professor (I forget which university he worked at) who annually asked his students to rate Scriabin's music (along with other questions about various other composers). The students in general rated Sciabin's music merely "OK", but the pianists in his classes tended to rate it "outstanding"! ;-)

OTOH, there was a reviewer for Stereo Review IIRC who recounted his stay in a vacation house in the country with his kids. During a thunderstorm, he was playing some recordings of Scriabin's music when one of his kids burst into the room and asked accusingly, "Why do you have to keep playing that creepy music when the weather's like this?" ;-)

 

RE: Scriabin to me is like DSCH for you..., posted on February 16, 2021 at 11:21:43
blakey
Audiophile

Posts: 178
Joined: October 24, 2000
Love Scriabin's piano music (sonatas, etudes, poems, preludes, etc) but can never warm up to his orchestral compositions, and I am NOT a pianist!

 

Well done then! [nt] ;-), posted on February 16, 2021 at 13:48:30
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012

 

RE: Scriabin's "Le poeme de l'extase" (Poem of Ecstasy). . . with choral parts???, posted on February 17, 2021 at 10:03:52
Mel
Audiophile

Posts: 2475
Location: New York City Area
Joined: February 21, 2001
As do a few others, Sinopoli takes the liberty of inserting an approximate two bar rest at RM 41 (19:15 on the recording). It makes for an extra-dramatic finish.

 

Thanks for that tidbit - very interesting!, posted on February 17, 2021 at 11:23:20
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
So interesting in fact that I pulled out my Eulenburg score of the work to check. The scoring is so dense there that you have to hold the score sideways so that all the instrumental lines can be printed and you can actually see what's happening! (Otherwise the notes would be too tiny to see at all!)

Regarding that two-measure Luftpause you mentioned (conductors have to allow some time for that fff sound onslaught of the previous section to clear before starting the subsequent pp section!), I think the spot you mean is rehearsal mark 41, rather than 40? (At least in my score.) If you happen to have the same score, this would be going from page(s) 192/193 (printed sideways) to 194/195 (also printed sideways)? Or are you referring to a different spot?

 

RE: Thanks for that tidbit - very interesting!, posted on February 17, 2021 at 14:47:56
Mel
Audiophile

Posts: 2475
Location: New York City Area
Joined: February 21, 2001
These posts must have an express route to you so that you see them before one can correct a typo, which in this case was done rather quickly. Yes, of course, it's 41.

2 bar luftpause seems almost like a contradiction--long for a luftpause.

Fact is some other conductors (Gergiev for ex.) just lets the succeeding bar crawl in under the fff one without a discernable pause. Which is to say: as written. Pletnev (DG) does take a very short pause.

Petrenko takes the max: three bars at a slower pace. Quite dramatic.

 

Number 10 is the one that does it for me. I don't know his Preludes and Mazurkas at all. nt, posted on February 17, 2021 at 16:33:52
jdaniel@jps.net
Audiophile

Posts: 21983
Location: No. California
Joined: December 16, 2003
.

 

Yes, very interesting. I'm ashamed I don't have the score handy, but no room with all the Modern Ceramics and, posted on February 17, 2021 at 16:39:05
jdaniel@jps.net
Audiophile

Posts: 21983
Location: No. California
Joined: December 16, 2003
Almond-Growers' Quarterly mags stacked to the ceiling....

 

Sonata No. 10? - Yes, that may be my favorite of the Sonatas too, posted on February 17, 2021 at 19:53:51
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
Preludes, Mazurkas. . . it's all good! ;-)

You can really follow his compositional development via the Preludes.

 

Instead of a Luftpause, I suppose you could call it an unmarked fermata over the bar line, posted on February 17, 2021 at 20:18:30
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
BTW, I agree with the poster on that YouTube video who said he was so glad that the BPO picked Petrenko over Thielemann. ;-)

 

RE: Scriabin's "Le poeme de l'extase" (Poem of Ecstasy). . . with choral parts???, posted on February 17, 2021 at 20:39:14
sser2
Audiophile

Posts: 2352
Location: Pittsburgh USA
Joined: July 30, 2003
Poem of Extasy doesn't have anything to do with sex. Skryabin's Extasy is becoming unity with the Universe. Getting familiar with Skryabin's philosophy helps appreciating his music. Super composer.

 

"Poem of Extasy doesn't have anything to do with sex", posted on February 18, 2021 at 01:58:18
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
I think that's a matter of opinion! ;-)

In Faubion Bower's biography, he quotes Scriabin's remark that he could not compose unless he was in the state of extreme sexual excitation (!). Furthermore, if you just look at some of the titles of his piano pieces, it becomes clear what the inspiration is. As Yevgeni Sudbin writes in the booklet notes for one of his own recordings of Scriabin's piano music:
Scriabin was also the first to introduce sex into his music, and quite explicitly too.
While acknowledging Brahms' romanticism and Wagner's gardens of worldly tempta -
tions, Scriabin went several steps further, when he wrote music entitled Desire, Danced
Caress, Sensual Delights and, above all, the Poem of Ecstasy. Some of the passages from
the accompanying poem leave little to the imagination and are too explicit to mention (as
is indeed the music, but even censorship has a limit).
But whether one thinks there is sex in Scriabin's music or not, I do agree with you that he is indeed a "super composer".

 

RE: "Poem of Extasy doesn't have anything to do with sex", posted on February 18, 2021 at 16:07:47
sser2
Audiophile

Posts: 2352
Location: Pittsburgh USA
Joined: July 30, 2003
I can only say that what Sudbin is doing is regurgitating the mainstream banalities. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of music idiom will hear in the finale the grandiose, supernova-like cosmic event, not, excuse me, ejaculation.

 

Ex-stasy, posted on February 18, 2021 at 17:01:55
sser2
Audiophile

Posts: 2352
Location: Pittsburgh USA
Joined: July 30, 2003
literally means "transposition out of your state", and this is how Skryabin's title should be interpreted. That the word acquired sexual connotations in several languages is not helpful here.

It is similar to Pathetic, originally something grandiose, elevated, but somehow meaning "poor" or "miserable" in the English language.

Skryabin was more a philosopher than a composer, but this fact is interpreted, incorrectly and unfortunately, to the effect that he was sick in the head by mainstream musicology.

 

I don't deny that Scriabin adhered to a philosophy, but (as I mentioned in my previous post). . . , posted on February 19, 2021 at 01:26:30
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
. . . there are too many other aspects of his life which make it difficult for me to believe that his music doesn't have an erotic component to it. You're not necessarily wrong to concentrate on the philosophical connotations and meanings of his music, but I daresay that most writers and musicians perceive the erotic component too. OTOH, I don't know of any legitimate scholarly or popular writer who has tried to make the case that Scriabin was "sick in the head". (Stanchinsky. . . well, that's another story.)

May I ask who (if anyone) has influenced you in your ascetic view of the composer?

 

Scriabin, the Sex Pistol? nt, posted on February 19, 2021 at 08:38:30
tinear
Audiophile

Posts: 61581
Location: Kansas City, KS
Joined: April 9, 2006
Contributor
  Since:
April 8, 2006
d

 

RE: Instead of a Luftpause, I suppose you could call it an unmarked fermata over the bar line, posted on February 19, 2021 at 14:12:13
gussclarinet
Industry Professional

Posts: 33
Location: Central NJ
Joined: March 2, 2011
Petrenko gave an outstanding performance up on Digital Concert Hall. I think that is the performance that got him the job.

Roy

 

Ascetic?, posted on February 19, 2021 at 15:52:15
sser2
Audiophile

Posts: 2352
Location: Pittsburgh USA
Joined: July 30, 2003
Rather factual. I don't deny sexuality playing a role in Skryabin's creativity. As well as in Bach's, Beethoven's, or Schubert's. But to say that Poem of Ecstasy was inspired by some sex craze is utter nonsense. I guess it has something to do with sales pitch. Sex sells, unlike philosophy. Put a naked woman's body on the album cover, and, with suggestive title, sales are guaranteed.

For starters, there is a Wikipedia article about Poem and accompanying Skryabin's text. There is nothing, zilch, nada about sex. It is liberation of spirit of the Creator (composer himself), that in the final act dissolves in the Universe and becomes the Universe itself.

I was hooked on Skryabin after attending the Prometheus - with color light keyboard part - in the Oktyabrsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg in early 80s. There are nice Skryabin biography sources, fiction and non-fiction, unfortunately only in Russian.

 

Indeed... nt, posted on February 19, 2021 at 16:13:07
sser2
Audiophile

Posts: 2352
Location: Pittsburgh USA
Joined: July 30, 2003
nt

 

Btw, my fav is, posted on February 19, 2021 at 16:27:16
sser2
Audiophile

Posts: 2352
Location: Pittsburgh USA
Joined: July 30, 2003
Stocky on Belock Everest LP. Looked hard, but couldn't find anything better. No orgasm though.

 

I guess I don't read that Wikipedia article the same way you do, posted on February 19, 2021 at 17:26:36
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
Per the very same Wikipedia article:
Modest Altschuler, who helped Scriabin revise the score in Switzerland in 1907, and who conducted the premiere with the Russian Symphony Society of New York on 10 December 1908, reported that Scriabin's implied program (which does not appear in the score) is based on three main ideas: his soul in the orgy of love, the realization of a fantastical dream, and the glory of his own art.
Hmm. . . maybe he was referring to tantric sex in the part I bolded! ;-)

I agree with you to the extent that, with music being fundamentally abstract, one can't say for sure whether its "meaning" consists of one thing or another - or both or neither. The fact that well known musicians like Sudbin acknowledge that there seems to be a sexual element in it is interesting however - and the work's eroticism is a well known part of the lingua franca in discussions and writings about the music. You're welcome to have your own ideas about the work, but you can't deny that the sensual aspects of this music pervade the general knowledge about this work throughout the world.

Another thing about the Wikipedia article is that it quotes only four of the over three hundred lines of Scriabin's poem. Fortunately, the Bowers biography to which I referred to earlier has the whole poem, and includes some of the more juicy parts which Wikipedia left out:

It [the spirit] lingers with a kiss
Over a whole world of titillation [. . .]

Horrors lift up your heads
Try to destroy me,
Caverns of dragons' mouths
Serpents twist around me
Constrict me and bite me [. . . ]

The wave of my being
Has already seized you.
You are quivering already! [. . . ]

I will bring you
The magical thrill
Of scorching love
And unimagined caresses.
I will drown you in oceans of bliss
And beloved kisses
Of great heaving waves [. . . ]

And then in torrents of flowers
I will lie upon you
With all aromas and scents.
I will bask languidly
In this play of fragrance
Now tender, now sharp
In the play of touches.
And, sinking into passion,
You will
Whisper
Again and
Ever again!
Then I will plunge. . .
With savage torment and terror
I will crawl upon you. . .
And will bite and choke you.
And you will want me
More madly and more passionately.
Then I will lie upon you
Under rays of celestial suns.
And you will burn with the fires
Of my emotion,
The holy
Flames of desire.

[and so on],

Maybe the poem was not "inspired by some sex craze", but it sure sounds pretty close to me! ;-)

Finally, you DO know that it's a cop out to claim that the only legitimate Scriabin biographical sources are in Russian, right? And in any case, you do know that some Scriabin biographies originally written in Russian, e.g., the one by Boris de Schloezer, have been translated into English, no?

 

RE: Btw, my fav is, posted on February 19, 2021 at 18:20:39
jdaniel@jps.net
Audiophile

Posts: 21983
Location: No. California
Joined: December 16, 2003
Interesting.

In my barely-remembered, dawn-of-time youth, I bought an lp that included the Poem, but in the 70s when American production values, from source, to playback, (Sound-design turntable $29 at Thrifty's) were bottom of the barrel.

I had absolutely no idea who or what I was buying, but I bought it. I think...from...Kress? Maybe Woolworth's? I can't remember what the B-side was. Maybe Tchaikvosky's Romeo and Juliet? Columbia Special Products? Angel?

IIRC, the finished product sounded like noise from distant black holes.

 

The engineering on that Everest Stokowski recording deserves. . . , posted on February 20, 2021 at 02:02:30
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
. . . its "golden age of stereo" reputation. As I mentioned in my post below, I find the Houston Symphony of that time a bit on the light side in terms of tonal reserves. And the reason you couldn't remember the B-side was because you lack of interest in Azerbaijani music! ;-) (Or maybe it just WAS another recording entirely that you bought!)

The three stages of Stokowski's stereo "Poem of Ecstasy" recordings:


Great engineering; orchestra a bit wan


Great orchestra; trademark synthesized Phase-4 engineering (not as bad as it sometimes can be though)


Ah! The happy medium!

 

The Everest is 24/192 on QOBUZ..., posted on February 20, 2021 at 10:25:32
Ivan303
Audiophile

Posts: 42106
Location: Cadiere d'azur FRANCE - Santa Fe, NM
Joined: February 26, 2001
But only two channel. :-(





 

That sounds like the Classic Records "DAD" remaster I have, posted on February 20, 2021 at 11:28:36
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
DAD=Digital (or is it DVD) Audio Disc - really a DVD Audio, with 2Ch 24/192 tracks on one side, and discrete 3Ch 24/96 tracks on the other side. In fact, that was the "DAD" incarnation of the Stokowski/Houston performance I showed in my post above, with its reproduction of the original LP cover. Those Everest recordings seem to have been reissued so many times, in remasterings of various levels of quality, that I've lost count! ;-)

 

Listened to it twice..., posted on February 20, 2021 at 11:53:59
Ivan303
Audiophile

Posts: 42106
Location: Cadiere d'azur FRANCE - Santa Fe, NM
Joined: February 26, 2001
Same trumpet call over and over, but she never answers.

No orgasms today. :-(



 

Sorry you missed out - maybe next time! ;-), posted on February 20, 2021 at 14:31:14
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012
Of course, men tend to "slow down" a lot at our age! ;-)

 

Could be - I saw only the little two-minute excerpt which Todd had linked to [nt], posted on February 21, 2021 at 01:18:45
Chris from Lafayette
Bored Member

Posts: 19832
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
February 6, 2012

 

Not me, you silly, the trumpet player..., posted on February 22, 2021 at 06:44:58
Ivan303
Audiophile

Posts: 42106
Location: Cadiere d'azur FRANCE - Santa Fe, NM
Joined: February 26, 2001
He keeps repeating the same refrain, but to no avail.





 

Page processed in 0.039 seconds.