In acknowledgement of the back-to-back sesquicentennial years of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, this lecture-recital aims to compare and contrast the pianistic output of these two composers around the turn of the 20th century in meaningful ways. Particular aspects that will be taken into account include the aesthetic and philosophical influences that shaped their compositional and harmonic output, their reception and role in late Imperial Russia and the Russian Silver Age, and other factors that have affected their posthumous reception history such as Rachmaninoff’s exile in the West and Scriabin’s early death in 1915. This lecture-recital will additionally touch on the relationship between these composers.
The repertoire for this lecture-recital will focus on pieces dating from around 1903: a selection of Preludes from Rachmaninoff’s Opus 23 and the Opus 32 Poèmes and Fourth Sonata of Scriabin. Aside from being written around the same time period, these pieces demonstrate many of the opposing elements of each composers’ output, such as the more traditional style and musical topics presented by Rachmaninoff’s Preludes and newer sound and formulas of Scriabin’s Poèmes and Fourth Sonata (both of which present early iterations of the so-called “Mystic Chord”).
Equally at home as a soloist, collaborator, presenter, and educator, James Palmer is a dynamic young pianist based in Houston, Texas.
An active member of the Houston music scene, Mr. Palmer regularly performs in venues throughout the city. Recent solo and chamber appearances include the Music in Context Chamber Series, Musiqa, Lone Star College Montgomery, and numerous solo recitals for church music series in the area. He is a featured performer for the Houston Public Library’s Houston in Harmony series, performing biweekly performances at the HPL’s central branch, and was also a featured performer for the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Summer Nights Gallery Exhibit in summer 2023. He also regularly gives solo recitals, chamber appearances, and lecture-recitals throughout the United States.
Mr. Palmer is also an active educator in Houston. In addition to maintaining an independent private studio, he is on the faculty of the Shepherd School of Music Preparatory Division. In the summer of 2023, he taught the senior piano class and coached chamber groups at the AFA Texas Summer Music Festival. Mr. Palmer is a Teaching Fellow at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music.
As the Secretary of the Scriabin Society of America, Mr. Palmer helped organize and performed in the SSA’s International Scriabin 150 Festival in November 2022. He will make a solo appearance for the Scriabin Society of America Fall Gala in New York City in September 2023.
Mr. Palmer recently finished doctoral coursework at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Dr. Robert Roux. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying with legendary musicians Émile Naoumoff and Menahem Pressler.
Palmer has been a prizewinner and finalist in numerous international competitions and created the YouTube series What is a Piano Prelude (2022-23) and Scriabin Preludes Project (2019-2020). Find out more at jamespalmerpiano.com
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