Domo: Tippet Rise OPUS 2016 = Various works by SCRIABIN; ABRIL; RACHMANINOV; STRAVINSKY; CHOPIN [Tracklist and Performing Artists follow] – Pentatone Oxingale Series Multi-channel SACD PTC 5186 660, 65:45 (8/4/17) ****:
The 2016 music festival in Fishtail, Montana celebrates various ecstasies of music and Nature in pantheistic colors.
The inaugural concert (24 June-20 August 2016) of the Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail, Montana brought together a number of musicians to celebrate Scriabin’s centennial, given the magnificent backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains and the megalith Domo, a huge table in the shape of a Neolithic dolmen. The intended effect means to combine architecture, natural beauty, and music into an ecstatic experience that defied Scriabin’s prediction that such a venue of extended music, dance, and drinking would invoke the Apocalypse. The musical site embraces 10, 260 acres for outdoor and indoor performances again, 7 July-September 16, 2017.
Yevgeny Sudbin opens the proceedings with Alexander Scriabin’s Fifth Sonata (1907), whose strong ties to the Symphony No. 4 (“The Poem of Ecstasy”) have been well documented. After a towering chordal introduction—“I call you to life, mysterious forces!”—the music goes into convulsions, alternately languid and accelerated. Sudbin’s sonorous range and pedal effects prove equal to the Herculean tasks set before him, especially as the dynamics can suddenly dissipate into erotic vapors. Centrally, marked “with delight,” the harmonies amass in fourths, mystical and unnerving, at once. At the condensed recapitulation, the opening materials return, speeded up and propelled into the high registers, the kind of “volante” or flying expression of the composer’s hard-won liberation. The last pages stagger and then erupt into blistering throes of passion, only to cease, as if literally de-materialized.
Anton Garcia Abril (b. 1933) counters the spasms of Scriabin with two lovely songs, “Pero me quende sin ti,” and “Piano Maker,” the latter with words by Peter Holstead,both intoned by Emily Helenbrook with Christopher O’Riley at the keyboard. The pattern of alternating solo and duo-ensembles continues: O’Riley then performs a solo piece, a meditative nocturne by Abril whose often diatonic progression mixes a Spanish lilt with hints of Satie or Faure. A brief moment of explosive passion recedes back into the gossamer lyric whose textures now assume kinship with Granados by way of Debussy. The epilogue section has, for my money, too much arpeggiated filigree to maintain its otherwise compelling effect.
Cellist Matt Haimovitz joins O’Riley for a slow, sonorous rendition of the ever-popular Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov. Breaking the haunted spell of the preceding Vocalise, pianist Jenny Chen invokes the Shrovetide Fair from Petrushka, in the piano arrangement Stravinsky made for Artur Rubinstein. The keyboard sings and hammers, as is its wont, in a brilliant panoply of bustling colors, all prior to the eponymous puppet’s murder by his rival. Chen’s upper register quite shimmers in volcanic broken octaves, and her glissandi streak in meteoric fashion. Anne-Marie McDermott and Christopher O’Riley, however, return to the piano’s signing capacities with the “Night of Love” section from the Suite for 2 Pianos, Op. 5 by Rachmaninov. Trills and liquid harmonies align this sensuous music with moments from Ravel’s Miroirs and recollections of Liszt at the Villa d’Este. The rising passions, however, nod to Wagner’s Tristan, the culmination of blissful love-music. Chopin makes the same point in more concentrated form with his Nocturne in F-sharp Major, as performed by Stephen Hough after a recital of Schubert, Franck, and Liszt, to which we may be privy at a later time. In this piece, love becomes marvelous ephemera, vanishing just as one seizes it.
Duo-pianists Christopher O’Riley and Svetlana Smolina join trumpeter Elmer Churampi for a salon version of Scriabin’s Poeme de l’extase, an arrangement that squarely sets the piece next to the Sonata No. 5. Scriabin composed a 300 line poem to accompany this seventeen-minute work, a solipsistic ode to the Self as a rapturous, numinous presence hat affirms and justifies every gesture of existence, a variation on Nietzsche’s amor fati. The colossal, rising and sustained crescendo of this work adds an obstinate, erotic strain to something like Ravel’s Bolero, only more voluptuous, insistent, and harmonically interested.
Sonata No. 5 in F-sharp Major, Op. 53
Poeme de l’extase, Op. 54
Pero me quede sin ti
Tippet Rise Songs, II: Piano Maker
Tres piezas amantinas, II
Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
Suite No. 1 for 2 Pianos, Op. 5: Adagio sostenuto in D Major
La semaine grasse from Petrushka
Nocturne in F-sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2
Julien Borcal (piano)
Matt Haimovitz (cello)
Elmer Churampi (trumpet)
Emily Helenbrook (soprano)