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Scriabin: The Complete Piano Sonatas


Catalogue No: SOMMCD 262-2
Release Date: 2016-12-03
Number of Discs: 2
EAN/UPC: 748871326224
Liner Notes

This SOMM release will no doubt be a special treat for the many fans of Peter Donohoe’s recordings: a two-CD slimline set of Scriabin’s Ten Piano Sonatas, ending with Vers la Flamme Op. 72, one of his last pieces for piano, written in 1914.

“One feels a profundity of thought behind these interpretations – a lifetime’s pondering, indeed– and they fly from the page all the more freely for that.” —Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, June 2016 (of SOMMCD 259 Vol. 3, Prokofiev “War Sonatas”)

Russia produced three renowned composer-pianists at the end of the nineteenth century: Medtner, Rachmaninov, and his fellow student at the Moscow Conservatoire, Alexander Scriabin, a unique figure in Russian music as he seemed to follow a musical path all his own, completely different to that of either of his contemporaries. He created an original, exotic soundworld which progressed from Chopinesque romanticism in the First Sonata to a world of fantasy, inhabited by uncompromising, audacious dissonances in the later Sonatas which make overwhelming demands on any performer who dares to tackle them.

In his third Sonata Scriabin provided descriptions of the four movements under the heading ‘States of the Soul’. In the Fourth he experimented with Wagner’s Tristan harmonies. By the Sixth Sonata Scriabin’s harmonic tonality had completely broken down and dissipated – “frightening…dark and mysterious, impure, dangerous” as he himself wrote. The Seventh Sonata (White Mass) instructs the performer to play ‘with a heavenly voluptuousness’, ‘with a dark majesty’… Through the music he wanted to express an ecstatic disorder creating a trance-like effect on performer and audience. The Ninth (Black Mass) represents the Satanic but the Tenth has an opening marked ‘very sweetly and pure’. He said of this, ‘My Tenth Sonata is a sonata of insects. Insects are born from the sun, they are the kisses of the sun.’

On This Recording

  1. I. Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 6 (1892) I Allegro Con Fuoco
  2. II. Crotchet = 40 Lento
  3. III. Presto
  4. IV. Funèbre
  5. Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor, Op. 19 (1892-97) "Sonata Fantasy" I. Andante
  6. II. Presto
  7. Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23 (1897-98) I. Drammatico
  8. II. Allegretto
  9. III. Andante
  10. IV. Presto con fuoco
  11. Sonata No. 4 in F sharp major, Op. 30 (1903) I. Andante
  12. II. Prestissimo volando
  13. Sonata No. 5, Op. 53 (1907) Allegro, Impetuoso, Con stravaganza -- Languido -- Presto con allegrezza
  14. Sonata No. 6 Op. 62 (1911) Modéré
  15. Sonata No. 7 Op. 64, "White Mass" (1911) Allegro
  16. Sonata No. 8 Op. 66 (1912-13) Lento - Allegro agitato
  17. Sonata No. 9 Op. 68, "Black Mass" (1912-13) Moderato quasi andante
  18. Sonata No. 10 Op. 70, (1913) Moderato - Allegro
  19. Vers La Flamme, Op. 72 (1914) Allegro moderato