Alexander Scriabin

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor ("Etats d'âme"), Op. 23

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Alexander Scriabin began composing his Third Piano Sonata in 1897, immediately upon completing his Second. Like that work, the Third shows only vague signs of the remarkable atonal revolution that Scriabin will, quite independently of Schoenberg or any other composer, carry out in his music during the years just prior to World War I. The Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23 was completed in just a few months (as opposed to the nearly five years it took to finish the Second Sonata). Throughout this 20-minute piece, Scriabin continues to assert his own individuality over the Chopin-Liszt tradition which heavily influenced his earliest works. Although even his earliest compositions contain an ecstatic rapture entirely his own, the Third Sonata is perhaps the first truly Scriabin-esque musical statement, wholly deserving of its special little niche in the repertories of the world's pianists. Scriabin gave the Sonata several titles at various times, including "Gothic" and, from a much later period, "États d'âme (States of the Soul)," the latter an effort on the composer's part to reconcile the work with his growing interest in mystical and theosophical traditions. Happily, the programmatic outlines Scriabin indicated -- from the suffering of the first movement through the respite of the second and deep feeling of the third to the final plunge into nothingness in the finale -- are sufficiently vague to allow the piece to be heard as a purely musical statement. After the declamatory opening gestures of the Drammatico movement, Scriabin moves us into a sound-world richly adorned with his own unique brand of evanescent figurations and sweeping, ravishing melody. The opening statements also serve to close the movement, suitably transformed into fragments of a more tender variety. The following Allegretto is in the manner of an intermezzo -- here a bass line in octaves moves around in E flat major before a central section which radiates with the gentlest simplicity. The third and fourth movements (Andante and Presto con fuoco) are fused together by a brief connecting passage that recalls the opening movement. Scriabin sings one of the most purely gorgeous melodies he had yet written (or, indeed, would ever write) in the Andante, while the Presto sets fiery chromatic gestures against nostalgic lyric passages. A triumphant restatement of the Andante's melody is made, but Scriabin pulls the rug out from under our feet and throws us back into the tumult of F sharp minor for the finish.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Drammatico
    2. Allegretto
    3. Andante
    4. Presto con fuoco

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 MSR Classics MS 1669
    2018 Hänssler Classic HC 18022
    2017 Alpha 277
    2017 Decca / London
    2017 Somm SOMMCD 2622
    2016 MSR Classics MS 1619
    2016 Bridge BCD 9468
    2016 Praga PRD 250327
    2015 Profil PH 15007
    2015 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 88875127202
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Sony Classical 88875038372
    2015 Thorofon
    2015 Signum Classics SIGCD 426
    2015 Paraty PTY 915136
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002240
    2014 Thorofon CTH 2612
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2014 Acousence Classics ACOCD 12214
    2013 Entertainment Group 13701
    2013 Entertainment Group 11505
    2012 Brilliant Classics 9265
    2012 Sony Classical 88725413742
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94388
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Phaia Music PHU 01921
    2011 Capriccio Phoenix / Capriccio Records 49586
    2011 Naïve OP 30528
    2011 Brilliant Classics 9241
    2010 Avi-Music / Cavi-music 8553195
    2010 IDIS 6602
    2009 Brilliant Classics 9014
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Sony Music Distribution 88697575002
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 714808
    2008 Audite 21402
    2007 Melodiya 1001133
    2007 Amado Classics 4000
    2007 Urania 4258
    2007 VAI Audio VAIDVD4441
    2007 Vista Vera 93
    2006 Harmonia Mundi HMN91 1914
    2006 Classical Records 38
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946365332
    2005 Romeo Records 7232
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 Brilliant 92615
    2005 MDG 6041318
    2005 Harmonia Mundi 2907366
    2005 Rca Red Seal 65389
    2005 Calliope 3254
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 477049
    2004 Urania 4215
    2003 Naïve 30388
    2003 Brilliant 6137
    2003 Brilliant 99963
    2002 Vox 5184
    2001 Tudor Records 793
    2001 Tudor Records 726
    2001 Rca Red Seal 84594
    2001 Naxos 555368
    2000 RCA / RCA Red Seal 75523
    2000 Multisonic 310181
    2000 Naïve 30386
    2000 Telos 035
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Pro Piano 224523
    1999 Philips 456970
    1998 Angel Records 72652
    1997 Decca
    1997 London 452961
    1997 Calliope 9254
    1997 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 621
    1996 Nonesuch 73035
    1996 Melodiya 40116
    1996 Centaur Records 2287
    1996 Hyperion 67131
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 52622
    1994 ASV 882
    1994 Harmonia Mundi 907141
    1994 ASV 6153
    1993 Opus 111 409104
    1990 Simax 1056
    1989 RCA Victor 6215
    1989 London 425579
    1988 Harmonia Mundi 907011
    James Marchand 8883
    Music & Arts 865
    Brilliant 6137/2
    Melodiya 40121
    Mk 418018
    Mezhdunarodnaya-Kniga 418018
    Brilliant 92615/5
    Music & Arts 1070
    Arlecchino 31
    Amado Classics 04032
    Philips 422068
    Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 82876 76510-2
    Arlecchino 119
    Piannissimo 10394
    Arlecchino 42
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz)