Alexander Scriabin

Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20

    Description by Patsy Morita

    This work was Scriabin's only true concerto and his first work that involved the orchestra. At only 24 and needing a piano concerto to show off his abilities in concert, Scriabin was still using the idiom set forth by Chopin for his piano writing, and here he took on Chopin's orchestral mannerisms, as well, although Scriabin's orchestra takes a much more active and partner-like role than Chopin's does in his concertos. Scriabin completed the concerto in only a few days in the fall of 1896, but didn't finish the orchestration until the following May and did not premiere the work until October 23, 1897. The opening Allegro does not go to the emotional extremes that Rachmaninov does, but it does contain greatly contrasting moods and moments of tension, ending without a recapitulation in a generally dark disposition. The middle movement is a poetic Andante and four brief variations, which, even though in the major mode, still have a nostalgic feeling. Muted strings first state the theme, which then switches to the clarinet with delicate, interweaving piano accompaniment. The next variation is more like a piano scherzo; then a darker variation moves mostly into the left hand and lower registers. The fourth variation gives the theme back, inverted, to the orchestra while the pianist has a more filigree solo, including a slow cadenza before the coda. The final Allegro moderato is in sonata-rondo form and is more intensely expressive than the other movements. Its main theme features a soaring arpeggio that flies up to the high end of the keyboard, but the lyrical secondary subject, however, is the one that stays in memory. The movement ends with an extended coda that represents an ecstatic, emotional culmination, with the orchestra rising to prominence at the very end. Scriabin often performed the concerto, even after he had moved on musically and philosophically into more sophisticated areas. Also a favorite of Rachmaninov's, he conducted the composer in a 1911 performance and later performed the work himself at a memorial for Scriabin in 1915.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. Theme & Variations
    3. Allegro moderato

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Melodiya MELCD 1002539
    2018 Brilliant Classics 95520
    2018 Chandos CHSA 5216
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 0028947980
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 RCA Red Seal 88875063922
    2015 BIS BIS 2088
    2014 ABC Classics 4811323
    2014 ABC Classics 4811322
    2013 Decca 4785437
    2013 Supraphon SU 41322
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2011 Decca 452 852-2DH
    2010 Decca
    2010 Caprice Records / Collector's Classics CAP 21681
    2009 Brilliant Classics 9014
    2009 Tudor Records 7025
    2009 Classical Records 104
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099920610
    2008 Danacord 660
    2007 Decca 4758592
    2007 Gega New 318
    2007 BIS 1669
    2007 Arte Nova Classics 544570
    2007 Vista Vera 96010
    2007 Hyperion 55304
    2006 Classical Records 57
    2006 Classical Records 44
    2005 Real Sound (RS) 2
    2003 Decca 473601
    2003 Decca 000088102
    2002 Testament 1232
    2000 Boheme Music 908087
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 459647
    1999 Chandos 9728
    1999 Naxos 8 550818
    1998 Collins Records 15052
    1997 Decca 4528522
    1996 Supraphon 104149
    1994 BIS 475
    1994 Hyperion 66680
    1993 Russian Disc 15004
    1988 London 417 252-2DH
    Vox 8170
    Russian Compact Disc (RCD) 30005
    FNAC Music 592008
    Russian Compact Disc (RCD) 16247
    Triton 17001
    Pan 510079
    Intaglio 748
    Multisonic 310254
    Boheme Svetlanov / Nikolaeva-Svetlanova 1520
    Arlecchino 32