Hyperion Records

Fantaisie, Op 28
As a substantial single sonata-form movement the Fantaisie in B minor, Op 28 (1900), bridges the gap between the Third and Fourth Sonatas as the only piano piece of any length written during Scriabin’s professorship. A popular work with Russian pianists—Scriabin is central to the Russian repertoire—its existence was forgotten by the composer. When Sabaneiev started to play one of its themes on the piano in Scriabin’s Moscow flat (now a museum), Scriabin called out from the next room, ‘Who wrote that? It sounds familiar.’ ‘Your Fantasy’, was the response. ‘What Fantasy?’

The virtuosic style is close to that of the Third Sonata. The brooding opening gives way to one of Scriabin’s inspired, soaring and consoling second subjects whose flight is sustained for twenty-six bars. Noticeable here are the touches of canonic treatment. The third theme is close in its massive confidence and chromatic harmony to the world of ‘The Divine Poem’—the Third Symphony, finished in 1904. The recapitulation is hugely expanded and rescored, an early attempt to deal with something mentioned many years later by Scriabin’s brother-in-law Boris de Schloezer: ‘Neither musically nor psychologically can anything justify a near-literal repetition, which causes a painful drop in tension.’ Scriabin addressed the problem more successfully in his piano works than in the orchestral ‘Divine Poem’ and ‘Poem of Ecstasy’; the emotional line rides on through a long coda, a device used later in the Seventh Sonata. But as he moved into the middle and later periods of his music his means of variation were to become both more subtle and more drastic.

from notes by Simon Nicholls © 1996

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