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Scriabin: Preparation For The Final Mystery / Ashkenazy


Release Date: 01/11/2000 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 466329   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alexander NemtinAlexander Scriabin
Performer:  Alexandre GhindinAlexei LubimovThomas TrotterAnne-Kristiina Kaappola
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester BerlinErnst Senff ChoirSt. Petersburg Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 10 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews


Around 1903 Scriabin first conceived the idea of Mysterium, a seven day and seven night spritual/artistic experience incorporating music, poetry, visual effects, dancing, and chanting. Preparation for the Final Mystery was meant to usher his audience into the cosmic awareness necessary for Mysterium. Scriabin worked on Preparation mainly during 1912-13. He died in 1915, leaving 53 pages of sketches. Based on his intimacy with Scriabin's style, and using Scriabin's one thousand-line text as a guide, composer Alexander Nemtin (1936-1999) embarked on a realization of the work. The result is a massive three-part composition (1.Universe 2.Mankind 3.Transfiguration) for orchestra, wordless chorus and
Read more soloists, organ, piano obbligato, and even a "light keyboard". The project occupied Nemtin for more than 26 years, ironically becoming his life's work.

Of course, the main question is, "Does it sound like Scriabin"? Well, yes and no. The tone cluster that opens Universe (part one) resembles Tippett, but this soon resolves to the chord (based on fourths and augmented intervals) familiar from Prometheus and the late sonatas. (Reminiscences of Prometheus and the Poem of Ecstasy are ubiquitous.) Nemtin is a late 20th century composer and aspects of his own personality do appear despite his desire to act merely as a musical "medium". (The grand conclusion to the work sounds more like Schnittke than anyone else.)

It's questionable whether Scriabin would have actually completed such an expansive work, given that the late piano sonatas and orchestral works demonstrate an increasing concentration of thematic material into shorter forms. Consequently, much of "Preparation" sounds like filler. In many passages harmonic sequences and motifs are repeated seemingly endlessly, then interrupted by impressive orchestral flourishes, but not always soon enough to prevent ear fatigue. On the other hand, Ashkenazy and his assembled forces perform this music as if they believe in every bar. For those enthralled by Scriabin's cosmology, Preparation will be an ecstatic, mystical experience. Devotees of Scriabin's late harmonic style will find much to fascinate. Others may find themselves driven batty by more than two and one half hours of endless unresolved cadences.

Nemtin's 1975 Nuances is a ballet based on orchestrations of Scriabin's late piano miniatures. The beguiling melodies, delicate orchestration, and brevity of these pieces feel like a light dessert after a very heavy meal (except that the ballet comes first on the discs, so maybe it's an appetizer). The recorded sound throughout is very detailed and atmospheric, with a wide dynamic range. Whatever one's reservations about the success of Nemtin's reconstruction, it would be hard to disagree that the performance itself is exemplary.

--Victor Carr, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Nuances by Alexander Nemtin
Performer:  Alexandre Ghindin (Piano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; Russia 
Date of Recording: 9/1996 
Venue:  Jesus-Christus-Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 30 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: This work is based on late piano works by Alexander Scriabin. 
2.
Mysterium: L'Acte préalable, 1st movement "Universe" by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ernst Senff Choir,  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: 5/1997 
Venue:  Jesus-Christus-Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 41 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: The score of the "Acte Préalable" to "Mysterium" was prepared by Alexander
Nemtin between 1970 and 1996 based on sketches and texts written by
Alexander Scriabin from as early as 1903 to the year of his death in 1915. 
3.
Mysterium: L'Acte préalable, 2nd movement "Mankind" by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Thomas Trotter (Organ), Anne-Kristiina Kaappola (Soprano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Chamber Choir,  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: 8/1997 
Venue:  Jesus-Christus-Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 52 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: The score of the "Acte Préalable" to "Mysterium" was prepared by Alexander
Nemtin between 1970 and 1996 based on sketches and texts written by
Alexander Scriabin from as early as 1903 to the year of his death in 1915. 
4.
Mysterium: L'Acte préalable, 3rd movement "Transfiguration" by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Anne-Kristiina Kaappola (Soprano), Alexei Lubimov (Piano), Thomas Trotter (Organ)
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ernst Senff Choir,  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: 9/1996 
Venue:  Jesus-Christus-Church, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 65 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Notes: The score of the "Acte Préalable" to "Mysterium" was prepared by Alexander
Nemtin between 1970 and 1996 based on sketches and texts written by
Alexander Scriabin from as early as 1903 to the year of his death in 1915. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  4 Customer Reviews )
 Scriabin January 9, 2014 By benjamin cutler (somerville, NJ) See All My Reviews "Both Mr. Withers and Mr. Hedstrom express views that are tangental to the real worth of this remarkable music and the listener deserves to know something about the music itself. I understand Mr. Withers view that the music often sounds like it belongs to one of the Startrek movies. But consider this. The music to Startrek was written by a movie studio staff composer who was trying to write a kind of descriptive "sounds like" music. Scriabin, more than 70 years before, was writing music that was from his heart and soul and without precedent in its time. Later, much later, other composers wrote music that came close to what Scriabin was getting at; Havergal Brian in his Gothic Symphony in 1926 and Olivier Messaien in his Turangalila Symphony in 1949. Scriabin wrote music that was intensely original; the Startrek composer was imitating. Well, it is not strictly true that Scriabin "wrote" this music. He died in 1915 after working on it for 12 years leaving more than 50 densely annotated pages of sketches and a huge text narrative of what he was creating. The Russian composer, Alexander Nemtin, 60 years after Scriabin's death, spent 26 years reconstructing Scriabin's inspiration from these 50 pages. That he succeeded as remarkably well as he did is due not only to his own incredible effort but clearly also to the quality of what Scriabin left behind. Why does this music work so well? Scriabin, who was never noted for any organization in his music, found a compelling way of organizing this music that, in Nemtin's realization, runs over 2 1/2 hours. There are no themes, no melodies, no Wagnerian "leitmotivs" in this music. Rather there are a collection of between 6 to 10 music fragments of 4 or 5 notes each. These fragments are used in every manner/inversion possible. But the good thing about this is that they are nearly always recognizable; you can "hear" them throughout the music. Instead of producing wonderful, dry, musical academism which would have happened in lesser hands Scriabin/Nemtin has produced music that is gloriously "Scriabin", chords comprising all 12 tones notwithstanding. It works incredibly well. The motivs are used as the total musical fabric constructing new "melodies" on the fly. If there is any criticism to be made of this music, assuming you like Scriabin in the first place, it is that there is too much of it. The listener is advised to listen to one section per night." Report Abuse
 Mysterium as yet unrealized September 18, 2012 By Christian Withers (San Antonio, TX) See All My Reviews "This attempt to complete Scriabin's Mysterium is worth hearing, and I'm glad Ashkenazy has honored Nemtim's efforts with this recording. Unfortunately, the first disc is the highlight, the rest being merely interesting. Disc 1 passes for authentic Scriabin (orchestrated piano pieces and a realization of his actual sketches for the Mysterium). But discs 2 and 3 sound less Scriabin-esque and more Star Trek-ish. While Scriabin's original idea for this music is probably impossible to accomplish (the transfiguration of humanity through art), it seems to me something more overwhelming than this would be possible." Report Abuse
 EXCELLENT July 21, 2012 By Mario Mondaca See All My Reviews "Excellent " Report Abuse
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