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 / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    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
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2011
    Various Artists
    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