"A great poem for the piano" was how Scriabin described his fifth piano sonata. It was indeed composed at the same time as his great poem for orchestra "Le Poème de l’extase", and both works are based on the same literary programme. Scriabin spent a long time honing the text, which represents his philosophic idea of the development of the world in poetic form, until its publication in a separate volume in 1906. About a year later Scriabin announced that he had completed his fifth sonata, stating "and I consider it to be the best of my works for piano. I do not know myself what kind of a miracle has happened". This landmark for piano continues our series of Urtext editions of Scriabin’s piano works.
- Level of difficulty (Explanation)
- Other titles with this level of difficulty
The Piano Sonata no. 5 op. 53, described by Alexander Scriabin (1872– 1915) as a “grand poem for piano” – originated in 1907, thus at the same time as his orchestral work Poème de l’extase (The Poem of Ecstasy), op. 54. The two works not only share the period of composition, but also a literary programme that had great significance for the composer. Before … more
About the composer
Russian composer and pianist. The focal point of his oeuvre is his extremely unique piano music; in addition, he wrote important orchestral works.
|1872||Born in Moscow on January 6, the son of a pianist (his mother); she died in 1872.|
|1888–92||Piano studies at the Moscow Conservatory|
|1888–96||Twenty-four Preludes, Op. 11, containing all the hallmarks of Scriabin’s early period: broad, ornamental cantilenas underpinned by figurations and arpeggios in the style of Chopin, complex rhythmic structure from polyrhythms and syncopations.|
|1892–1913||Composition of ten piano sonatas.|
|1896||Travels to Paris, Vienna, Rome.|
|1897||Piano Concerto in F-sharp minor, Op. 20, in the style of Chopin.|
|1897–1909/10||He primarily composes orchestral pieces, including the major works “Le Poème de l’extase” (“The Poem of Ecstasy”) for large orchestra (1905–07), Op. 54, and “Prométhée ou Le Poème du feu” (“Prometheus or The Poem of Fire,” 1908–10); orientation toward Liszt and Wagner; programmatic music with occasional annotations in the musical score, incorporation of philosophical notions into his compositions, which are defined by various philosophical movements from around the turn of the century. Unusual intervals, harmonically at the edge of tonality.|
|1899–1904||Composition of his three symphonies, Opp. 26, 29, and 43.|
|1904||He resides in Switzerland.|
|1906||Invitation to the United States.|
|1910||Return to Russia.|
|1908–10||“Prométhée ou Le Poème du feu” for piano, orchestra, organ, choir, and clavier à lumière, Op. 60: enrichment of musical performance through plays of light. 1911–14, piano compositions, Opp. 61–74, with avant-garde harmonies.|
|1913||Beginning of the multisensory “Acte préalable” (“Prefatory Action”), which is never completed.|
|1915||Death in Moscow on April 27.|
About the authors
The first and most obvious difference between the Henle edition and the other three editions I used for this review is the impeccable layout; the printing is sharp and easy to read, the markings are well-placed and there is plenty of space in the measures and between staves. In the other editions, one gets the sense that the editor was trying to save paper.