Friday, February 5, 2010

Scriabin, a composer touching the surface of my soul

Alexander Scriabin

Scriabin's "synesthetic" keyboard

Alexander Scriabin. Russian. 1872- 1915. A strange man.

His music has been important to me for many years. It is beautiful and elliptical. It is as passionate and eccentric as the man himself. His piano pieces can't be described. They are a world unto themselves. Listening to them -- letting your mind go where they bid -- an aesthetic delirium ensues. So captivating. This is music that bonds to the texture of your spirit. Even if years elapse before you hear it again, the memory of it remains embedded. You are content with that knowledge. And sometimes, listening to it again can be overpowering...almost too much. A flood of plaintive melody, of oblique harmony...of schizophrenic rhythm. Sometimes, you think: maybe it would be best to just listen to this music as a distant echo in memory. Reopening such a beautiful wound by actually hearing it again can stagger you.

Scriabin said he experienced music as colors. Synesthesia. From my reading about this, I come away thinking he was not a true perceptual synesthete, not having moments of cross-wired phenomenal confusion. Rather, he felt music as colors. He was high-pitched emotionally, and I think that general psychological complexion expressed itself as emotional colors. And that he only imagined those hues of feeling as having prismatic counterparts.

This odd, gushing-over genius also had a mystical streak. For him, Love is the essence of Being. And Eros is the god of mediation between us and our absolute spiritual apotheosis. Our final, eternal ecstasy. Our deliverance from matter into numinous substance. I hope he was right about all that.

It is so good for us that he wrote his symphonic Poem of Ecstasy. Here's a piece of it:

YouTube Poem of Ecstasy

Buy CD

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