Few pianists have embraced the music of Alexander Scriabin the way Arthur Greene has. Currently Greene is in the process of recording all 10 sonatas and the Russian’s music is a staple on his recital programs. “I’ve been living with his music for a long time,” Greene told Reichel Recommends in a recent phone interview.

The 1978 Gina Bachauer competition gold medalist, Greene has performed in Salt Lake City a number of times. Most recently he played Scriabin’s sonatas over two evenings. And this Friday, the Bachauer Foundation has invited Greene back, and he returns with another all-Scriabin program. This time he’ll play three of the sonatas (nos. 1, 3 and 6) plus the Fantasy in B minor, op. 28, a set of six preludes and the Etude in D sharp minor, op. 8, no. 12.

Arthur Greene

And just like the time before, Greene will add a visual element to his performance. “Scriabin had ideas about combining different art forms,” Greene said. “And because Scriabin was friends with some of the symbolist painters working at the turn of the century, I decided to show some of these paintings while playing the music.”

Greene chose 125 symbolist artworks to use with this particular program. “They’re organized to flow with my playing,” he said. “They will illuminate the music instantaneously.”

Greene feels this visual addition is a necessary component. “His music is magical and mysterious and hard to penetrate. It’s so colorful and full of meaning, and these paintings are so striking. It’s a combination that really works.” And audiences have tended to agree with him on that. “I’ve done it several times and audiences have liked it,” he said.

Outside of his native Russia, Scriabin’s music doesn’t get performed too often. And while his music can be difficult to understand, Greene quickly points out that Scriabin’s musical language comes out of the romantic tradition of Chopin. “He never completely broke away from that tradition,” Greene said. “Even in his late works, when he was using more personal harmonies, he still created lush, powerful sounds. In fact, he is one of the greatest in getting sonorities out of the piano. His sounds and colors are amazing.”

  • What: Arthur Greene, piano
  • Venue: Jeanné Wagner Theatre, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
  • Time and Date: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8
  • Tickets: $15 general, $5 students
  • Phone: 801-355-2787 or 888-451-2787
  • Web:
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About Edward Reichel

Edward Reichel, author, writer and composer, has been covering the classical music scene in Utah since 1997. For many years he served as the primary music critic for the Deseret News. He has also written for a number of publications, including Chamber Music Magazine, OPERA Magazine, 15 Bytes, Park City Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He can be reached at Reichel Recommends is also on Twitter @ReichelArts.

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