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October 1, 2015

Pianist Matthew Bengtson Performing Major 2 Hour Concert of Scriabin Works on Saturday, November 21 at DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Manhattan

Bengtson marking centennial of composer’s death with concerts across the US and India and CD release of Scriabin’s complete Sonatas

(New York City) On Saturday, November 21, Philadelphia-based concert pianist Matthew Bengtson will perform 22 pieces by legendary Russian composer Alexander Scriabin at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Manhattan. (see complete concert program below) The two-hour long all-Scriabin recital is the final event Bengtson’s Scriabin Centennial Concert Tour marking the 2015 centennial of Scriabin’s tragic death at age 43. For the penultimate event on his Centennial Tour, Bengtson will perform a recital of Bach and Scriabin on Sunday, November 15 at St. Alban’s Church in Staten Island.

Bengtson reflected on how he chose the program for his recital at the DiMenna Center. “After numerous all-Scriabin performances this year, I wanted to share one concentrated program running the gamut of style from a passionate late Romantic to a mystical visionary at the vanguard of musical innovation, while also featuring as many of Scriabin’s most iconic achievements as possible.” Bengtson explains, “I wanted to include the Preludes op. 11, the magnificent Sonatas 5, 9 and 10, and his final work, the Preludes op. 74. The beautiful Sonata no. 2 and a generous helping of his finest miniature masterworks - some of them lesser known - flesh out the experience. And the most famous Etudes op. 2 no. 1 in C# minor and op. 8 no. 12 in D# minor act as bookends, inviting in the listener and wrapping things up with Scriabin's torrential passion.”

Earlier this year, Bengtson released two CDs of the complete Sonatas on Romeo Records, which The American Record Guide compared to legendary performances by Horowitz and Richter. The esteemed commentator John Bell Young, writing in Fanfare magazine, calls Bengtson “a Scriabinist for the 21st century .. upon whom future generations can rely for definitive interpretations.” Young describes Bengtson as an artist who “offers some of the most authoritative and electrifying readings of the sonatas (and a few of the miniature character pieces) in memory. Here is a pianist of extraordinary depth and imagination, whose way with this music is at once unique, satisfying, and interpretively unimpeachable.”

Bengtson’s Complete Scriabin Sonatas Volume I (74 min.) demonstrates the wide range of style from the big Romantic gestures of the 3rd Sonata, through the quivering ecstasy of the 4th and 5th Sonatas, breaking the tonal system into the mystical landscapes of the 8th 9th and 10th sonatas, which show the full extent of Scriabin’s daring sonic imagination. Volume II (76 min.) begins with the cataclysm of the Sonata no. 1, with its funeral march, through the seaside landscapes of the Second, to the occult sonorities of the Sixth and concluding with the triumphant mysticism of the Seventh. Joining these four sonatas are a selection of impressive shorter works that completes a portrait of this astonishingly wide-ranging musical imagination.

On June 21, Bengtson was one of only three concert pianists from across the globe featured in “Scriabin in the Himalayas”, a magnificent tribute for the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin that took place on the outdoor terraces of Thikse Monastery in Ladakh, India on the summer solstice. The recitals featured Scriabin’s greatest works for solo piano as well as Vocalises and a unique transcription of “The Divine Poem” for piano four hands. As the first concert pianist to perform Scriabin’s music in the foothills of the Himalayas, Bengtson paid homage to the composer’s lifelong dream of an epic synesthetic performance in the Indians Himalayas, an apocalyptic opus Scriabin called the Mysterium. 2015 is also the centennial of Scriabin’s tragic death at age 43 and the all-day, two-part “Scriabin in the Himalayas” concert was undoubtedly the most elaborate event anywhere in the world marking the anniversary.

“I was thrilled to be invited to perform for this historic tribute to Scriabin,” says Matthew Bengtson, one of the world’s leading interpreters of the Russian composer’s brilliant music. “I’ve devoted a significant portion of my professional life to studying Alexander Scriabin and to performing and recording his works,’ added Bengtson. “So naturally, to play a key artistic role in bringing his dream of the Mysterium to life in such a sublime, magnificent setting was deeply gratifying for me, both as an artist and as a lover of great music. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everyone involved.” For more details on this historic concert event, visit

Critically acclaimed as a “musician's pianist,” Bengtson, a Steinway artist, is a versatile pianist, harpsichordist, and fortepianist who commands a diverse repertoire ranging from Byrd to Ligeti. He has been presented as a soloist and chamber musician in numerous concerts across Europe, Mexico and America. His discography includes the recording of complete Scriabin Sonatas, which The American Record Guide compared to legendary performances by Horowitz and Richter asking, “Has Scriabin ever been played better?” (see complete Bengtson bio below)

For further information about pianist Matthew Bengtson, his touring schedule and his complete recordings, visit

Listen to Matthew Bengtson playing Scriabin’s Etude Op. 8 No. 12 in D# minor, recorded live at Chatham University, Pittsburgh.

DiMenna Center All-Scriabin Recital
3 - 5 pm, Saturday, November 21
diMenna Center for Classical music
450 West 37th St., New York, NY
$25 Purchase Tickets Here

Étude op. 2 no. 1 in C# minor arr. for LH alone by Jay Reise
Preludes op. 11 (selections)
        no. 12 in G# minor
        no. 9 in E major
        no. 10 in C# minor
        no. 11 in B major
Sonata no. 2 in G# minor “Sonata-fantasy”
        Andante - Presto
Preludes op. 37
        no. 1 in B-flat minor
        no. 2 in F# major
        no. 3 in B major
        no. 4 in G minor
Poème op. 32 no. 1 in F#
Sonata no. 5, op. 53


Deux Poèmes, op. 71
        no. 1, Fantastique
        no. 2, En rêvant
Preludes, op. 74
        Douloureux, déchirant
        Très lent, contemplatif
        Allegro drammatico
        Lent, vague, indécis
        Fier, belliqueux
Prelude op. 67 no. 1
Sonata no. 9, op. 68 “Black Mass” (1913)
Deux Poèmes, op. 69 (1913)
        Allegretto - Allegretto
Sonata no. 10, op. 70 (1913)
Étude op. 42 no. 3 in F# major
Études op. 8 (selections)
        no. 11 in B-flat minor
        no. 12 in D# minor

3:30 - 5 pm, November 15, 2015
Music at St. Alban’s Piano Masterworks Series
Bach and Scriabin
Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church
76 Saint Alban’s Place, Staten Island, New York
$25 Purchase Tickets Here

Matthew Bengtson - piano
Critically acclaimed as a “musician’s pianist,” Matthew Bengtson has a unique combination of musical talents ranging from extraordinary pianist, to composer, analyst, and scholar of performance practice, and thus is in demand as both soloist and collaborator. As a La Gesse Fellow, he has been presented in concerts in France and Italy, Italy and Hungary, at Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, and in solo recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. He has performed numerous times on the Pro Musica series in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He has performed with the Reading, Pottstown, Ridgefield and Bay-Atlantic Symphony Orchestras, and has appeared with violinist Joshua Bell on NPR’s “Performance Today” and XM Satellite Radio’s “Classical Confidential.” He has recently been named a Steinway Artist.

An advocate of both contemporary and rarely performed music, he commands a diverse repertoire, ranging from William Byrd to Berio and Ligeti. One special interest is the music of the early twentieth century, especially that of Alexander Scriabin and Karol Szymanowski. His doctoral research and first studio recording were devoted to Szymanowski’s 22 mazurkas. His interpretation of the complete Scriabin Sonatas can be heard on a recent release by Roméo Records. The American Record Guide relates his recording to performances by Horowitz and Richter, praises his “rich tonal colors and dazzling technique,” and asks, “Has Scriabin ever been played better?”

Mr. Bengtson studied piano performance as a Harvard undergraduate with Patricia Zander; he also studied contemporary literature with Stephen Drury, and chamber music and performance practice with Robert Levin. He studied with Ann Schein at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, earning his MM and DMA degrees in piano performance, minoring in harpsichord with Webb Wiggins. He studied fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson on a fellowship at Cornell University. He continues to perform on all three instruments, as soloist and as collaborator, as in the Aurelio Ensemble. He is involved in an extensive recording project of early English instruments of the Charles West Wilson collection, for Griffin Renaissance Records.

Mr. Bengtson has participated in many American music festivals, such as the Aspen Music Festival, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Piano Performance (SICPP) at New England Conservatory, and the Classical Workshop and Baroque Performance Institute (BPI) at Oberlin Conservatory. In Europe, he studied at the Internationale Sommerakademie “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, Austria, and the Centre Acanthes in Avignon, with Claude Helffer and at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, France, with Philippe Entremont. In Salzburg, he performed Boulez’s Sonata no. 1 in the Wiener Saal, and at Fontainebleau, he was awarded the Prix de la Ville de Fontainebleau for his performances.

Also known as a thoughtful writer on music, he was awarded the 2003 Stefan and Wanda Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music for his paper The “Szymanowski Clash”: Methods of Harmonic Analysis in the Szymanowski Mazurkas. His comparative review of performances of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations is published in the New Beethoven Forum. His article on a competitive experience in Moscow was published in the Journal of the Scriabin Society of America. He teaches privately at the University of Pennsylvania and at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, and is Vice-President of Tri-County Concerts Association. Besides his musical attainments, Mr. Bengtson was educated at Harvard University with a focus in mathematics and computer science. He reads Latin and Greek, is a 3-handicap golfer, a dan-level go player, and a chess FIDE master (FM).

Steinway & Sons Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street and is dedicated to the ideal of making the finest pianos in the world. The result is instruments renowned for their unsurpassed quality. Pianos with such superior sound and responsive touch that they enchant the most demanding pianists. Each Steinway grand piano, for example, takes nearly a year to create. # # #

Upcoming Mathew Bengtson Concerts

St. Alban's Church Staten Island Bach and Scriabin recital Sunday, November 15, afternoon Recital of music by Bach and Scriabin.

diMenna Center Scriabin recital Saturday, November 21, 3 - 5 pm diMenna center for Classical music 450 West 37th St., NYC. Music of Scriabin. # # #

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