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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67131/2
Recording details: June 1995
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: March 1996
Total duration: 12 minutes 46 seconds

'He commands the four qualities that a Scriabin interpreter must have: a feverish intensity, a manic vision, a sovereign and fastidious command of the pedal, and a huge dynamic range' (Gramophone)

'Hamelin rises to the challenges of this music with complete mastery. But his is more than a purely technical triumph (though the effortless of his playing has to be heard to be believed)' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This is one of the most significant Scriabin recordings of recent years, as well as another triumph for Hamelin, who reveals as much affinity for this Russian mystic as he has for Alkan, Godowsky, Ives, and Bolcom on earlier discs … Two more favorable elements must be noted: Hyperion's spacious and vivid recorded sound, and a really superb set of booklet notes by Simon Nicholls' (American Record Guide)

'Hamelin's playing enthralls the ear with its rounded, never-ugly tone, flickering fingerwork, and thunderous power. A sensational issue in every sense' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hamelin's playing has superb authority and presence, and when required the greatest delicacy too. His amazing technical skill is completely at the service of the music. This is a major release' (Classic CD)

'Hamelin's revelatory cycle of the Scriabin sonatas takes top honors rather easily … a vein that's rarely been mined—and never with such virtuoso perfection. The more you think you know about these scores, the more striking you're liable to find this set' (Fanfare, USA)

'Marc-André Hamelin is the most important interpreter of Scriabin's music to have come along in decades' (Clavier)

'Il a les doigts et la sensibilité, la clairvoyance aussi, qui lui permettent de trouver un lyrisme généreux' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)

Piano Sonata No 5, Op 53
1907; Allegro. Impetuoso. Con stravaganza. – Languido – Presto con allegrezza

Other recordings available for download
Viktor Merzhanov (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonata No 5, Op 53, was written as an offshoot of the orchestral ‘Poem of Ecstasy’ in 1907; its composition took only three to four days. Scriabin provided a text, a few lines from the poem written for the orchestral work:

I call you to life, mysterious forces!
Drowned in the obscure depths
of the creative spirit, timid
Embryos of life, to you I bring audacity!

—a vivid description of the release of material from the unconscious mind necessary for the creation of such a complex and innovative work in such a short space of time. Like the Fourth, the Fifth Sonata belongs to the middle period of Scriabin’s music where harmony relates directly and clearly to the tonal system, but many features point already to the final phase. The general plan is of a slow introduction followed by a sonata movement, but slow and fast sections alternate throughout. The piece begins and ends with a fantastical passage of sheer sonority, quite anti-tonal in effect (though, characteristically, based firmly on a mode): starting with subterranean rumblings it flashes rapidly through the range of the keyboard and vanishes, as it were, from sight. The elementally simple motives of the languid prologue artfully foreshadow the themes which are to emerge later. The dance of the ensuing Presto takes up where the Fourth Sonata left off, and there are clear programmatic references to the epigraph: imperious fanfares are ans­wered by distant, fearful shudderings. The third subject, in a slower tempo, is the closest to the atmosphere of the ‘Poem of Ecstasy’: marked ‘caressingly’, and taking chromaticism its furthest yet, it is steeped in sensuality.

At the centre of the piece, marked ‘with delight’, appears the so-called ‘Mystic’ or ‘Promethean’ harmony which was to become the basis of Scriabin’s late style. Mysterious and sophisticated in sonority, it has a simple origin as a chromatically altered dominant chord arranged in fourths instead of thirds.

At the recapitulation Scriabin introduces a new technique: the opening bars are brought back in miniature, speeded up and lightened so that we ‘fly’ through them. This does not prevent a final, ecstatic reprise of the prologue theme with Scriabin’s usual vibrating repeated chords—but, unlike earlier works, the theme is not in octaves but more luminously in single notes in the treble, another characteristic of the late style. The final bars, identical to the beginning, baffled Taneiev, who remarked that the Sonata did not finish but just stopped; this ending could also be thought of as a new beginning, suggesting repeated cycles of creation—Nietzsche’s ‘Eternal Recurrence’.

from notes by Simon Nicholls © 1996

Other albums featuring this work
'Viktor Merzhanov – Chopin, Liszt & Scriabin' (APR5671)
Viktor Merzhanov – Chopin, Liszt & Scriabin
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99 APR5671  Download only  

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