Chromatically altered harmonies, like the ‘Promethean’ chord introduced in the Fifth Sonata, are uncompromisingly used as stable consonances. The range of expression has correspondingly expanded into an area of other-worldly mystery: Scriabin, like Richard Strauss after the composition of Elektra a couple of years earlier, was alarmed by the possibilities he had opened up. A transformation of piano sonority has taken place, ranging from monolithic chordal writing at the beginning through weightless, fluttering airborne impulses to an arching theme of boundless sensuality, which is developed in a passage of extreme textural luxuriance with motives and themes mingling in a multi-layered perspective. The final dance, which takes the dances of the Fourth and Fifth Sonatas into a new dimension of febrile hyperactivity, exceeds the range of the keyboard with an unprecedented top D. An anchor for the listener is provided by clear elements of recapitulation, but structure is seamless and the whole gives the impression of following the inscrutable logic of a dream.
from notes by Simon Nicholls © 1996