Vincenzo Maltempo

Scriabin: Complete Piano Sonatas

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Alexander Scriabin's evolution as a composer is outlined in his 10 piano sonatas, which were written between 1892 and 1913. Scriabin began his career as a Romantic, composing virtuoso multi-movement sonatas that hearkened back to Chopin, as demonstrated in the Sonata No. 1 in F minor, the Sonata No.2 in G-sharp minor, "Sonata-Fantasy," and the Sonata No. 3 in F-sharp minor. In time, though, he gradually adopted the impressionistic harmonies and more compact forms that are evident in the two-movement Sonata No. 4 in F-sharp major and the single-movement Sonata No. 5. This brief stylistic shift was quickly replaced by Scriabin's "atonal" phase, which involved advanced chromatic harmonies, the complex use of motives and unusual scales, and increasingly mystical expressions, starting with the Sonata No. 6 (which Scriabin rarely played because he felt it was "unclean,") and continuing through the Sonata No. 7, "White Mass," the Sonata No. 8, the Sonata No. 9, "Black Mass," and the Sonata No. 10. Vincenzo Maltempo's two-disc set on Piano Classics divides the program between the Sonata No. 4 and the Sonata No. 5, though that is more out of the CD's timing limitations than an indicator of a break in Scriabin's cycle. Yet grouping the single-movement sonatas on Disc 2 serves to mark the fundamental change in form that preoccupied Scriabin's last years and served his singular vision of music as a marriage between poetry and magic. Maltempo's playing is meticulous in execution and transparent, even in Scriabin's densest textures, and the close microphone placement captures every note.

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