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Lecture-Recital “Scriabin’s Sixth Sonata: Somber Experiments of the Octatonic Kind”

February 18, 2021 @ 16:00

Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel

Alexander Scriabin wrote his symphonic masterpiece Prometheus, the Poem of Fire op. 60 in 1910. This was a groundbreaking work in more ways than one. Not only was it a visionary attempt at a multimedia production, suffused with theosophical symbolism; it also opened up a stable and rewarding path away from tonality, signaling a new stage in Scriabin’s harmonic evolution.For the composition of Prometheus Scriabin almost exclusively relied on the “mystic chord” to provide the harmonic and melodic universe in which the piece unfolds. It is therefore remarkable that for the creation of the Sixth Sonata op. 62—mere months after Prometheus—Scriabin was already experimenting with another technique, the octatonic scale. The result of these experiments would be one of his darkest and most frightening works.This presentation will highlight relevant aspects concerning Scriabin’s continually evolving language, illustrated with examples from the two previously mentioned pieces. A music and color performance of the Sixth Sonata will conclude the lecture. For this performance, I draw on analytical considerations to come to musical choices that are directly correlated with the visual experience.


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