News – Scriabin Centennial Interview



Matthew Bengtson, whose devotion to the music of Scriabin is equaled only by his authority as a leading harpsichordist and fortepianist, has been turning the heads of both critics and the public. His recent recordings of the complete Scriabin sonatas emerged as if out of nowhere not only to unanimous critical acclaim, but to the astonishment of his colleagues as well. Devotees of the composer, both here and in Russia, have not heard this music played with comparable power and finesse since Vladimir Sofronitsky. On this side of the pond, more than one critic has compared Bengtson to Horowitz, and with good reason: he commands a transcendental technique wed to an impeccable musical understanding and imagination. A graduate of both Harvard University and Peabody, he maintains a busy schedule in the US and abroad as a pianist, harpsichordist, composer, teacher, and lecturer; in Europe and Russia, his studies and performances at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, in Moscow, and in France earned him the admiration of audiences as well. As a champion of both new and unjustly forgotten music, his repertoire is unusually rich, ranging from English virginal music through that of Berio, Boulez, Ligeti and a number of noted 21st century composers. An active chamber musician, he has collaborated in concert and on radio with Joshua Bell, Blanka Bednarz, John Haines-Eitzen, the Amernet String Quartet, and many others. He has recorded for the Romeo, Arabesque, Griffin Renaissance, Albany, and Navona labels. He takes pride in being a 2-handicap golfer and a chess FIDE master, and lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.

JBY: Looking over your biographical materials, I was struck immediately by your background in early music, and that you are not only a pianist, but an accomplished harpsichordist and fortepianist. There is only one other prominent Scriabinist I know, who is also an early music scholar and harpsichordist, and that is the great Russian pianist, Margarita Fyodorova. Even so, it is only too easy to be pigeonholed in this profession as a specialist. What is it that draws you so strongly to the work of these very different types of music?
MB: I am proud to consider myself a musical generalist, with wide-ranging interests in solo, chamber and concerto repertoire. If forced to choose a specialty, I would probably opt for the early 20th century, with its extraordinary proliferation of colorful musical styles and personalities. I particularly enjoy Scriabin and Szymanowski, but also late Faure, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Medtner, Ives, Schoenberg, Albeniz, among others. I also play a lot of new music; much of this music can also be quite complex. After this, going to a well tuned harpsichord or fortepiano to play Byrd, Rameau, Bach, Mozart, or Schubert is balm for the soul!

JBY: Had you considered presenting a recital or even a series of recitals juxtaposing the music of Bach with that of Scriabin? I should think imaginative presenters and broadcasters, eager to cultivate new listeners, would seriously consider a program of that sort. I can assure you, the classical music media would certainly pay attention to such a performer as well as the venue that had the guts to present a program like that.
MB: It happens that my other major project recently has been Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier, of which I’ve given several performances in the last few years. While preparing for this Scriabin Sonatas recording, I gave a number of concerts that combined Bach and Scriabin, and I’ve been asked to play another in Staten Island this November. Bach, surely the most rational and logical of musical architects, and Scriabin, typically considered the most irrational of mystics, seem odd bedfellows. For sure, their styles are starkly contrasting in many ways. However, Bach’s counterpoint inspires us not just by its formal perfection, but – as Schumann observed – by its affective power, and by its religious overtones. Interpretations based on numerology in Bach certainly border on mysticism. Scriabin is actually a very underrated contrapuntist, as Glenn Gould (an otherwise unlikely Scriabin champion) certainly realized. Scriabin was taught by Taneyev, who also taught with Rachmaninoff and Medtner. Practicing Scriabin, as always in Bach, we become aware of many voice-leading and motivic connections. After working to bring them all out, we have to let go of these details sooner or later, in order to focus on the pacing and emotional content. While Scriabin’s counterpoint isn’t always as evident on the surface as Medtner’s, his mastery of voice-leading and sense of formal control underpins his fantasy; it is an essential part of what makes his music successful.

JBY: If you had to explain to someone unfamiliar with both Scriabin and music of the baroque era, what it is they have in common, and what can be learned about the interpretation of the former from a thorough study of the compositional conventions, performance practices and traditions of the latter, what would you say?
MB: In a nutshell, there’s a lot of music “behind the notes”, where the performer’s own intuition, imagination, and indeed inventive powers are not only tolerated but required to make the music live and breathe. In both cases, a clear understanding of the harmony and its implied affect is fundamental to our interpretation. I believe that all serious pianists should be trained in historical performance practice, not only for its great inherent value but for the healthy and liberating effect it has on the whole recreative process. I also find that the study of early instruments has greatly refined my modern piano touch and articulation.

JBY: Were you to be afforded the resources and tools for presenting the music of Scriabin, either all by itself or in conjunction with the music of others, what would be your ideal: A series of concerts, a single concert that is a worldwide of televised event, or some other format?
MB: If I had plenty of time and resources, I would choose a week-long series of concerts that combined Scriabin’s own works with those of other composers. There would be many fascinating juxtapositions. I would trace his roots to the past through Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Wagner (and yes, Bach!) and relate his music with those contemporaries I listed above. I would also plan to include newer compositions that were inspired by Scriabin’s idiom, such as those of Stravinsky, Szymanowski, Carter Griffes, and Messiaen, plus some newer compositions inspired by his achievement, such as the music of English composer Marcus Blunt.

JBY: Have you ever performed in recital with both piano and harpsichord?
MB: I’ve done a few mixed instrument programs, with harpsichord and fortepiano solo, and with harpsichord and fortepiano accompanying Julianne Baird. I’ve also mixed early and modern pianos playing with cello. The timbral and stylistic contrasts are always interesting for the audience.

JBY: Your studies have taken you from Harvard, where you were also pursued the study of mathematics, to the celebrated Mozarteum in Salzburg. You also spent some time in Russia. How have audiences in different countries responded to Scriabin, particularly those in Russia, where you participated in the International Scriabin Competition some years ago?
MB: It is clear that in Russia, Scriabin has a much higher status; audiences there have a greater appreciation for his music than the average listener in the states, where his music still seems a little exotic. I would say in general that responses to Scriabin’s music are all over the chart, wherever I perform. There is one group of people that adore it, find it endlessly fascinating, and thank me for programing it, wondering why we don’t hear it more. Into this group I would include people who weren’t familiar with this music and are immediately impressed by it. Then there’s usually another group of people who dislike it or are shocked or even offended by it. It’s a bit like two opposing political parties. I don’t think many people react to it indifferently. Since I belong to the first group, I guess I don’t fully relate to the second, but I suspect that the popular exaggeration of Scriabin’s mystical and self-aggrandizing image feeds this phenomenon of distrust or marginalization.

JBY: This year marks the centenary of Scriabin’s death. The Scriabin Museum in Moscow is hosting an event to commemorate it, which I am unfortunately unable to attend, as I did in 1992 with an American delegation of Scriabin scholars. Are you going? And if not, would you consider holding a symposium of your own on Scriabin here in the states, one that any number of foundations, such as the Pew Charitable Trust or the Trust for Mutual Understanding, to name only two, would likely be interested in supporting, as they did our team in 1992?
MB: Scriabin is endlessly fascinating from the perspectives of history, culture, theory and philosophy. He has been long an underrated and under-performed composer in the West and his centennial deserves more celebration than what I have observed to date. I am in contact with several Scriabin scholars, theorists, and enthusiasts that could make a splendid, varied program. Rebecca Mitchell is a leading scholar on Russian music of this period and has a book coming out, Nietzsche’s Orphans: Music, Metaphysics and the Twilight of the Russian Empire, which will cast a very new light on Scriabin’s relationship to his cultural milieu and especially the significant but troubled influence of the German philosopher. I am already collaborating with Rebecca on an event in William Kinderman’s “Cultural Creativity” series at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in April very close to the 100th anniversary date. I am also in touch with Anna Gawboy, who has researched Prometheus quite extensively and has found a much more compelling way of realizing the part he scored for colored lights. My friend, composer and theorist Jay Reise has written one of the most clear and concise expositions of Scriabin’s late style (much more than mystic chords!). Perhaps you might like to join this event yourself; I know your book in Scriabin is due out soon. Regardless of organization of any symposium, I am planning at minimum to hold a New York recital in the fall honoring the great composer.

JBY: Now that you have recorded all the sonatas, and a few of the character pieces, do you have any plans to record the remainder of Scriabin’s piano music? And please let us have a brief overview of your upcoming concerts for 2016, both in the US and Europe.
MB: I would very much like to record more Scriabin, although without significant support I can’t envision attempting the complete works. Certainly there is a wealth of wonderful music remaining: Preludes, Etudes, Mazurkas, Poemes, etc. for which I feel affinity. My friend, composer Jay Reise from the University of Pennsylvania, has transcribed some of Scriabin’s famous Etudes for the left-hand alone, including, believe it or not, the famous D# minor op. 8 no. 12, a transcription he dedicated to me. I knew he had been thinking of doing this, when one day I received an email with his transcription that read simply “Attached, as threatened!” I made a few pianistic alterations to suit my own technique, and have premiered and performed this a number of times. I will be video-recording Jay’s three Etude transcriptions (op. 2 no. 1, op. 8 no. 11 and op. 8 no. 12) together with the original versions in the very near future. I can tell about another major recording project due out within the year: a 3-CD release of the music of Karol Szymanowski on the Musica Omnia label with violinist Blanka Bednarz. We both did our DMA research on Szymanowski’s music: mine on his 22 Mazurkas and hers on performance practices in the violin repertoire. The recording includes all the significant violin/piano repertoire of Szymanowski and a good sampling of the solo piano repertoire as well: the Etudes op. 4, Masques, Metopes and my recording of the complete Mazurkas, until now only available privately. The astute reader may have guessed that I was first attracted to Szymanowski’s music as a composer who had successfully incorporated elements of Scriabin’s idiom into his own. I am also in the midst of some new music recordings, for example a recording project of music for cello and piano by Roberto Sierra, with cellist John Haines-Eitzen, due in 2016-17 on Albany Records. This music is also extremely complex, colorful and passionate, and technically hard as nails. I recently recorded a new Piano Quintet by Dmitri Tymoczko of Princeton University with the Amernet String Quartet. It is quite a lively work full of rhythmic surprises, and the recording is due out on Bridge Records in 2016. My concert schedule for the foreseeable future is focused primarily on promoting the Scriabin project: Scriabin recitals in Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston, Ithaca, NY, a tour of Chicago and the Midwest, and the New York and Staten Island events I mentioned. I plan to present the complete sonatas in the Philadelphia area in two recitals. There is also a likely collaboration in 2016 with an orchestra in Washington state for a Scriabin concerto, recital, and possibly lectures as well. Apart from that there will be recitals with Blanka Bednarz, which will include the music of Szymanowski, some Baroque and modern music with Melomanie and the Aurelio Ensemble, and chamber music with the Trio Camille. The University of Pennsylvania will present a mini-festival of piano music composed since the Second World War, including recitals by Gregory de Turck, Marilyn Nonken and myself. There I will play Ligeti and Bolcom Etudes, and some Carter and Nancarrow among other things.

JBY: That’s interesting that you are going to play Nancarrow. Are you playing his early piano music, or some of the later works that he wrote specifically for player piano, and which is pretty much physically impossible for a human being to play? If the latter, have you altered or transcribed it in some way so as to render it playable?
MB: He composed three “Canons for Ursula” (Ursula Oppens) utilizing the same rhythmic techniques in the player-piano Etudes, but with a mind to human realization. These are certainly challenging but doable, and audiences really get a kick out of them.

JBY: You mention Reise’s transcription of the D sharp Etude for the left hand. Have you also performed the rarely played early version of that etude, which Scriabin nearly had published instead of the one we know today?
MB: Yes, I performed this quite recently. The Belaieff publishing house, and possibly Rimsky-Korsakov, could tell this piece was going to be successful and pushed it to publication before Scriabin was ready for it. The standard version we know is more concentrated in its mood and therefore more successful, but the original version is well worth hearing. It shows how extensively Scriabin must have revised his ideas. I am including this Etude in the video project with the left-hand transcriptions.

JBY: When did you first discover Scriabin, and resolve to learn the bulk of his work? What was it about his music that drew you to it, and who among your teachers had the greatest influence on your determination to master it?
MB: I went to boarding school, and had a very full schedule with a lot of academic work. Playing the piano was a pleasure and a creative outlet, not at all the focus of my life. In fact, I was at least as interested in composition as in performance at that time, and if I went to the piano I was as wont to improvise as to practice. Like many piano enthusiasts, I enjoyed Horowitz’s performances and also saw them on television. So of course I heard him play the D# minor Etude and the early C# minor op. 2 no. 1. Horowitz passed away while I was in high school, and his New York Times obituary listed a select discography. I like to explore things, so on a whim, I bought his Scriabin CD on CBS Masterworks just to see what other music there might be by this intriguing composer. What a transformative experience! Of course, there were these Romantic miniature jewels that I fell in love with immediately, such as the op. 8 and op. 42 Etudes, the Poeme, op. 32 no. 1, the Album Leaf op. 45, and so on. I wanted to play the Etudes, and they were some of the pieces that really made me work seriously at the piano; sight-reading skills will not suffice when facing this level of difficulty. That was a turning point where I really started to enjoy practicing. Vers la Flamme, which Horowitz called “psychedelic music”, was also featured on this disc, as were the Ninth and Tenth Sonatas. I was pretty conservative in taste at this time, and had hardly played any twentieth century music at all. I didn’t understand these pieces at first, but there was something totally earth-shattering about them. Scriabin’s imagination was just staggering, mind-boggling. I sensed that no matter what I tried to do in composition, I could have never come up with anything like that. So I kept listening to these pieces, trying to figure them out, and even improvising a bit in this style. Pretty soon I started accumulating recordings and got myself lost in that world. I think I must have played the Tenth Sonata every day for a number of years. I sight-read and dabbled in many pieces, and even wrote a transcription of Prometheus for two pianos, which has not yet been performed. Regarding the influence of my teachers, while I was at Harvard, I worked with Patricia Zander (formerly Yo-Yo Ma’s collaborator and wife of conductor, Benjamin Zander), who was an extraordinary teacher in many ways. The Scriabin concerto was the first piece we did. I was scheduled to play the first movement with orchestra just after we started working together. She always wanted things lively and viscerally communicative, and was quite hard to please! However, she did say some nice things about my Scriabin playing. At one point, I wanted to learn the Fourth Sonata, and when she OK’ed that, I was excited to get the piece in my fingers, and managed to do it in two days. But then I phoned her to ask if it would it be all right if I studied the Fifth Sonata instead; a couple of days later, that one was going strong too. There’s nothing like being infatuated with your subject in order to learn things quickly! One interesting episode I remember from those times: I had played the Ninth Sonata for Steven Drury, who was also a Zander student. He criticized my rhythmic liberties because he couldn’t understand the notated rhythm in the score. So I tightened things up, and a few years later I played it for Zander. In her typical way she wanted it to be more diabolical, and she would growl and grimace and she wrote “BE WEIRD!” on top of the score. Even though they were apparently giving the opposite advice, I imagine both of them were probably right in their own way. As with all music, we have to communicate the musical text in both spirit and detail. During my undergraduate years I learned all the notes to the ten sonatas, and wanted to make them a centerpiece of my repertoire. Although they were surely works in progress, I felt a strong kinship with this music and began to feel differently from the recordings and performances I heard; I felt I had something of significance to say about Scriabin that might make a real contribution. At Peabody, I studied the Eighth Sonata with Ann Schein, and also briefly the Fourth. She knew I had made a specialty of this music and wanted to make the most out of it. In her intuitive way she made many specific suggestions for pacing, textures, pedalings, voicings, dynamics, beyond what is in the score. She encouraged me to drive the music forward as much as I could, which is so physically demanding, but essential to bringing a sense of the ecstatic, which Scriabin’s vision requires. Pianistically, she demonstrated how much freedom and imagination one could and should bring to his music.

JBY: Among the great interpreters of Scriabin, who do you number among your most important influences, and why?
MB: Horowitz was the first and very powerful influence. As I see it now, his outstanding achievement in Scriabin is his wizardry of tone color, so important to this music. Sofronitsky would be next; his manic intensity can be ideal for Scriabin. Also in quiet passages his weightless sonority is astonishing, as in the Poeme op. 32 no. 1. Richter had a wide Scriabin repertoire, as he did with so many other composers. His genius for sustaining tension over long periods is most effective in the unstable harmonies of Scriabin’s late music. I would like to acknowledge, too, the early generation of Russian pianists, which included Neuhaus, Goldenweiser, and Feinberg. The astonishingly free and colorful Feinberg recording of the op. 3 Mazurkas is one of my favorite piano recordings of all time, truly an ideal to strive for. Nowadays we hardly ever hear this kind of metrical freedom that weds fantasy, poetic character, and musical logic. Finally, of course, there is Scriabin himself, whose piano-roll recordings can unfortunately be difficult to appreciate because of the circumstances of their creation. Scriabin’s outstanding characteristic as a pianist was said to be his command of sonority and wizardry with the pedal, and these features aren’t well preserved with this early piano-roll technology. Anatole Leikin’s recent study of Scriabin as a performer is a big help to appreciating Scriabin’s piano-rolls.

JBY: The sine qua non of baroque era aesthetics was the concept of music as speech, wherein the idiosyncratic rhythms of speech were codified in tone. Of course, at that time, it was the cumulative power of rhythm, compositionally organized as motivic material in small, rather than large phrase units, that prevailed. The value of affect and inflection was likewise paramount. A century later, Mussorgsky appropriated more or less the same idea, and though his Kuchkist colleages did not put it to use with equal specificity, he exerted more than a little influence on their music, as well as Scriabin’s. Your performances of Scriabin reject the customary and usual rhapsodic willfulness, which we hear only too often, in favor of unusual exquisite clarity and purpose. What would you suggest that pianists, embarking on a study of Scriabin, should focus on as they begin to explore his music? On the whole, what sort of impact does all this have on your approach to teaching?
MB: Rhythm is indeed one of the trickiest aspects of Scriabin’s music to interpret. As with most other styles, mathematical relationships in the notation can only serve as approximations of an idealized gesture, which can’t be precisely notated. Scriabin’s music is unusually intuition-dependent, in both sound and rhythmic organization, and that intuition can best be developed through immersion in listening, reading, and analysis as well as through practice. A pianist should listen to great performances of the full range of his music, by great interpreters of different generations. With regard to teaching, I would like to remark on the great pedagogical value of Scriabin’s miniatures. Many teachers are reluctant to assign difficult pieces to inexperienced students. I’m more afraid of long ones! Short pieces allow for the kind of detailed work that students really need to improve. The challenge itself can be motivating and gives something to reach for. Scriabin’s miniatures run the whole gamut of technical difficulty, and require an unusually strong emotional response.

JBY: What is your view of piano competitions? Have you served on the juries of international piano competitions, and would you consider doing so if asked?
MB: I have not yet judged any major competitions but have judged a number local ones. I have assisted for a number of years with artist selection for a local concert series. It is a fascinating process; there are of course many pianists these days with fantastic technical equipment, but it is interesting to locate those few who have a unique artistic voice, originality in their repertoire choices, and a convincing sense of a composer’s style and imaginative world.

JBY: As you know, there has been a great deal of nonsense written about Scriabin, much of it by his late biographer, Faubion Bowers, a self-serving, purple prose writer who popularized the composer at the expense of the facts. The long perpetuated and wildly inaccurate myths that have painted Scriabin as a synaesthete and even more vaguely as a mystic have resulted in ill-informed pianists mounting recitals of his music with ad-hoc, superficial color light shows, as if doing so added anything substantial to his music. Aside from their wholesale misunderstanding of Scriabin’s fascination with light and music, and what his intent actually was, we also know that his “synaesthesia” was never physiological, nor is there a scrap of evidence to suggest it was. We do know that Scriabin valued the idea of synaesthesia as a badge of honor; it was an emblem of the ideology set forth by a group of Russian artists, poets, and musicians of his day, the Mystical Anarchists, who saw art as the ultimate reality and the phenomenal world as illusion. Light and color were only a metaphor for enlightenment, but never intended as a puerile entertainment alongside his music. Do you likewise reject such popular spectacle for presenting his music, and what would you say to pianists who continue to do so?
MB: It is indeed a myth that Scriabin literally “saw colors” in conjunction with musical harmonies, and it may surprise many readers that neither he nor Messiaen, far from synaesthesia, even had perfect pitch! Scriabin used logic rather than experience to complete the famous color wheel of correspondences in Prometheus. However, he believed, as did the Symbolists, that there should be a connection between the arts, with music at the pinnacle of the hierarchy because it was the purest and most abstract and “spiritual.” Scriabin’s late pieces were in part sketches for the Mysterium, in which he envisioned a true coordination of sensory experiences. I wouldn’t say that I reject a colored light display with solo piano music out of hand, but it would have to be very thoughtfully done. Just flashing colors on a white background that change with the bassline harmonies is too simplistic and like an afterthought; it does the composer more harm than good. If light were used, it would need to vary constantly in intensity and be closely related to all aspects of the musical expression. Certainly, there is no evidence of Scriabin combining light with his piano compositions, and especially not with any of his earlier works. I wonder if anyone who has tried a light show with Scriabin’s piano music would do it with Messiaen, or with Debussy’s Prelude, Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir, which, after all, is explicitly based on Baudelaire’s imagination of synaesthesic experience.

JBY: My own research over the last fifty years or so on Scriabin, which culminated in my forthcoming book, “Scriabin Defended Against His Devotees: A Critical Evaluation of the Composer in the Context of Russian History, Religion and Culture” (to be published by Rowman-Littlefield in 2016) has led to a number of significant discoveries, not the least of which is the unusual, and perhaps largely intuitive relation his late music, especially, to ancient Russian chant – a certain aesthetic camaraderie of intent in the household of ceremony and prayer – and of course, perhaps more deliberately, several species of bell music, most notably the Egorievsky chimes. To what degree do you feel it is important to convey these dimensions of his music, and by what means?
MB: That is fascinating, and until now I was unaware of it. I will be very eager to read your research when it comes out, and should say I’m happy to observe that the English Scriabin literature seems to be getting a much needed lease on life after the colorful Bowers! Bells are hugely significant in Russian culture. It is impossible to travel to Russia without observing this, especially on a Sunday. Bells have very obvious surface significance in the music of Rachmaninoff and Medtner, and they do in Scriabin as well. Bell-like sonorities abound in the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Sonatas, and chant-like material is evoked in pieces like op. 67 no. 1, op. 74 nos. 1 and 2, and perhaps at a deeper level in the shapes and qualities of his motivic material. Pianistically, a certain weight and firmness of touch is needed to convey the right sonority.

JBY: Your way with Scriabin is at once unique and compelling. Unlike so many pianists who misunderstand this music, you have found your own voice without compromising or distorting either the specific and meticulously notated text, nor the composer’s intentions behind and between the notes. Whereas Vladimir Sofronitsky enthralled us with his deliciously idiomatic approach that crept over the music like a cancer; or Roberto Szidon whose South American rhythmic sensibility lent the music such great (if not exactly Russian) opulence; or Horowitz, who so naively, but charmingly infused the music with such fantasy and over the top contrasts; or Fyodorova, who, like you, prefers a crystalline, lapidary but impassioned approach (and there are many more great Scriabinists I can name that readers have likely never heard of), your readings are immensely authoritative, and also assertive. Superficial, reticent, and cloyingly delicate they are not, nor do you confuse subtlety with fragility. How do you reconcile these dimensions of Scriabin’s aesthetic world, wherein the assertive commingles so abstractly with the fragile, the efflorescent, and the evanescent?
MB: Thank you! In a way, there is a similar tension in Chopin, where Slavic passion co-exists with French elegance, and it is very tricky to find just the right balance between the two. To me, the characters you describe recall Florestan and Eusebius in Schumann and the devils and angels in Liszt. An effective performance of any of these composers requires a convincing sense of both. One wonderful thing about Scriabin’s music is that it can be approached in different ways, and while I am convinced by my overall approach, my thoughts on some of the details continues to evolve. It is tempting to group Scriabin’s late works stylistically with Debussy, since their music shares some features of harmony and textural layering. Even Debussy’s music is often played much too vaguely, I think, but there is an element of suaveness or “impressionism” that can be appropriate in his music that rarely fits Scriabin, in my opinion. Scriabin usually requires deeper sonority (like bells, as you describe) and harder, more crystalline attacks, especially in the high registers.

JBY: You mentioned when we first spoke some weeks ago that you were considering participating in a very special event in India involving the music of Scriabin. Can you tell us something about it? Who knows, maybe a corporate sponsor is listening!
MB: The plan is to hold two concerts, one at noon and one at dusk, in Ladakh at a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas, with programs of Scriabin’s music that proceed from darkness to light. Still in progress, this event could be held as early as June 2015 and if successful would, after a century, realize at least in part something of Scriabin’s mystical artistic vision. Now that could be the experience of a lifetime!

(Reprinted with kind permission by John Bell Young)