Scriabin's Étude Op. 8 No. 12 Arranged for the Left Hand Alone by Artur Cimirro

Alexander Scriabin was a Russian composer born in 1871. He inherited his musical ability from his mother, who was once a gifted pianist and pupil of the renowned Theodore Leschetizky. She was also praised by Tchaikovsky. Alexander’s mother died when he was aged just one, leaving him in the care of his indifferent father and over-protective aunt. From the age of five, he could recall melodies on the piano and improvise. In his teens, Scriabin studied with Nikolai Zverev, an influential piano teacher who insisted that his pupils should live in his house and follow the strictest of regimes, studying music, languages, literature and manners of high society. Despite showing an aptitude for composition Zverev dissuaded Scriabin from engaging in this activity. Having heard Scriabin at Zverev’s house and immediately adored his sensitive playing, the director of the Moscow Conservatory, Safonov, allowed him to enrol in 1888 without an audition. In 1982, he graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, and the following year made his first trip abroad to Finland and Latvia. This trip kindled his desire to leave Russia. Later that summer, he was deemed unfit for military service, and he returned to Moscow where he visited friends and acquired the habit of staying out all night drinking.

Scriabin became enchanted with 15-year-old Natal’ya Sekerina, but her parents forbade the union. Their subsequent friendship, which lasted for several years, was emotionally painful for the artist. It was around this time that Scriabin composed his twelve Op. 8 Études, which demonstrate Scriabin’s advancing mastery in keyboard writing and his musical sophistication. Arguably the most famous Etude, No. 12 in D sharp minor opens with a powerful sense of agitation and frustration; This mood is then replaced with a subtly consoling melody, until the desperation returns with an ever-increasing sense of yearning that leads to an outburst of repressed anger. This originally two-handed etude has been arranged for the Left Hand Alone by Cimirro, while retaining Scriabin’s rich harmonies, varied dynamics and inner voices.

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