This set, which covers a period of eight years and comprises Scriabin's largest collection of keyboard works, contains as wide a sampling of his art from his early years as any, and while it may not claim the musical importance of many of the later sets of Preludes and Etudes, it is nevertheless a notable collection.
These Preludes cover the 24 keys, running in the usual pattern, beginning with C major and A minor and ending with F major and D minor. None of the works here come close to Scriabin's mature or late style, though more than a few augur future stylistic traits, as well as divulge Scriabin's burgeoning genius at keyboard coloration and unusual harmonies. The Second, in A minor, marked Allegretto, may not quite enter the mystical world inhabiting so much of the composer's music after 1903, but its strange, wandering theme and dark harmonies are wonderfully atmospheric and advanced for their time.
The E minor Fourth (Lento) is simple and melancholy, its barren textures foreshadowing the often desolate moods in later works. The next, in D major (Andante cantabile), is more typical of his style in this period, with its hints of Chopin and Liszt and a more Romantic demeanor. The F sharp minor Eighth is among the better pieces in the set, offering a dark, profound theme whose long-breathed and angular manner attest to the composer's considerable thematic invention. No. 11, in G major (Allegro assai), is dreamy and shows hints of Impressionism, then just being developed by Debussy.
The boisterous 14th, in E flat minor (Presto), provides a break from the generally subdued moods in the surrounding Preludes and also features an abrupt, dramatic ending in the bass register. The very Lisztian 16th, in B flat minor, marked Misterioso, is indeed mysterious, mired in the lower ranges of the keyboard and engendering much suspense in its march-like tread through dark terrain. The elegant E flat major 19th (Affetuoso) at times sounds like a parody of Chopin, but appears to employ a variation on the theme Scriabin used in the D sharp minor Etude No. 12, from Op. 8 (1894).
The robust muscularity of the C minor 20th (Appassionato) is contrasted most effectively by the mesmeric quiet and gentleness of No. 21, in B flat major (Andante). The set closes with a rousing, nervous Presto in D minor, whose big chords repeat as though stuttering in delivering its Rachmaninovish theme.
One might observe from this partial summary that the even-numbered Preludes appear to be the more substantial in the set. That may be the case -- certainly they are longer and often of greater depth. Performance of the whole collection would last around 35 minutes.