Alexander Scriabin

Preludes (5) for piano, Op. 74

    Description by Blair Johnston

    After the remarkable two-year burst of creativity that produced the final five piano sonatas (1912-13) Alexander Scriabin came up with two more works of real importance: the remarkable, acidic Vers la flamme, Op.72 and the vessel into which Scriabin's final musical thoughts were poured, the Five Preludes, Op.74 of 1914. Scriabin had been composing piano miniatures his entire life, and no fewer than fourteen other collections of preludes appear in his catalogue (one, the Opus 11 group, being of the entire twenty-four prelude cycle variety). But by the time of these final pieces Scriabin was a radically changed musician, on the doorstep of complete atonality and, in his own mind at least, the representative of divine creative force in an increasingly complex mystical and theosophical world- view. And so it is not surprising that five such concentrated, stringent works as these should be among the most challenging essays he left for posterity.

    Tonal ghosts haunt the Preludes, warped into tortured shapes and fused into a desperate, at times near-hysterical (and ultimately unfulfilled) yearning for resolution of some kind--harmonic, textural, thematic or otherwise. Witness, for instance, the minute-and-a-half Op.74, No.2, whose skeletal F sharp minor continually lunges up in an effort to achieve the C major with which Scriabin in his later years became obsessed-first melodically, by that same A-C gesture that the trumpets blast out triumphantly in the Poem of Ecstasy, and then by tritone chord-relation-only to eventually plummet weakly back down to the horror that corporeal life seems to have become. If such techniques seem threadbare after a whole century of abuse at the hands of less gifted imitators, the intensity of Scriabin's expression remains undiminished.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Douloureux, dechirant
    2. Très lent, contmplatif
    3. Allegro drammatico
    4. Lent, vague, indécis
    5. Fier, belliqueux

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Brilliant Classics BRI 95651
    2017 Bongiovanni GB 51982
    2016 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] / Naxos 8501504
    2016 Cybele 4S 161405
    2015 Bayard Musique B 3084382
    2015 Decca
    2015 Hyperion CDH 55451
    2014 Cybele 161404
    2013 Entertainment Group 11505
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 867
    2012 Nimbus Alliance NI 6198
    2012 Anima Records ANM 111000001
    2012 Brilliant Classics 9265
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2011 Capriccio Phoenix / Capriccio Records 49586
    2011 Marquis Records MAR81415
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099990724
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779527
    2010 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8571281
    2009 BBC Legends / BBC Music 42502
    2009 New Classical Adventure 60190
    2008 Camerata Records 28131
    2007 Melodiya 1001133
    2007 Arte Nova 654220
    2007 Vista Vera 96010
    2007 Gega 322
    2006 Harmonia Mundi HMN91 1914
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946365332
    2005 Brilliant 92615
    2005 Haenssler 98480
    2003 MDG 6131171
    2003 Dynamic 416
    2002 Dynamic 413
    2002 Vox 5184
    2001 ASV/Living Era 1096
    2001 Hyperion 67057/8
    2000 Amapola 9802
    1998 Angel Records 72652
    1996 Melodiya 40116
    1995 Altarus 9020
    1994 EtCetera Records 1126
    1994 Calliope 9692
    1994 Phoenix USA 114
    1990 Harmonia Mundi 907019
    Analekta 9202
    Melodiya 40121
    Brilliant 92615/5
    Russian Compact Disc (RCD) 16301
    Pavel Zarukin
    Manchester 126
    FL 3047
    Dynamic 4