The nature of Scriabin’s revision of the first movement gives us a clue as to the reasons why this sonata has remained neglected for so long. Scriabin’s relentless musical development suggests that by 1892 (when the revision was made) he was no longer interested in conventional classical forms. With its publication as the Allegro appassionato in 1894, the original sonata manuscript was forgotten. It did not see the light of day again until 1918 when Scriabin’s student Elena Bekman-Scerbina gave what may well have been its public premiere. By then the final page of the slow movement had been torn off and lost. With Scriabin dead, it was left to the performer (or possibly Leonid Sabaneyev) to reconstruct the missing page and since then even this version has been lost. The manuscript, now in two parts, was finally deposited in the Scriabin State Museum, where it languished until the third movement was published in 1947. Unaware that it had been separated from the other two movements, it was at first mistakenly identified as a Presto that Scriabin had performed in his debut recital at St Petersburg in 1895. (In fact, that Presto was in G sharp minor, as stated in the programme, and would later reappear as part of his Sonate-fantaisie Op 19.) All three movements finally appeared in print in 1970, in a volume titled Alexander and Julian Scriabin: Youthful and Early Works (Music Treasure Publications, New York). The autographs of all three movements are devoid of movement titles, dynamic- or tempo-markings. There are also missing time signatures, accidentals and, most unfortunately, the last page of the second movement breaks off less than two bars into the final statement of the opening theme. Luckily we have the first five beats of this final statement, which show us how Scriabin intended the theme to be embellished. By continuing Scriabin’s previous scheme within the movement, while extending the elaboration suggested by the composer, we find that a simple modulation is all that is required to effect a transition into the last movement. This also avoids the need to ‘invent’ any new musical material.
from notes by Stephen Coombs © 2001