ALEXANDER SCRIABIN: The Complete Works (Playlist follows) – Aimard/Ashkenasy/ Lisitsa/Fergus-Thompson/ Gergiev/Grosvenor/ Horowitz /Kissin/ Maazel/ Pogorelich/Richter /Szidon/Trifonov – Decca 478 8168 (18 CDs), over 200 min. total (Distr. by Universal) *****:

This is the first time a complete set of supposedly all of Scriabin’s works (not quite) has been assembled in a recorded collection, in observance of 100 years since the composer’s death (from a wart on the lip). It is drawn principally from the distinguished catalog of Decca, plus 64 newly-recorded tracks by pianists Vladimir Ashkenazy and Valentina Lisitsa, made just for the collection.

Scriabin is profiled in the interesting note booklet. He was something of an exotic, eccentric, and highly mysterious composer, and is my favorite. The printed essay stops short of called him mentally challenged, but like a lot of great composers (Schumann, for instance) he was. He was decadent, a believer in synesthesia (which does exist), a follower of Theosophy, an extremely self-centered composer, who believed he was the unique creative force of his time (and in fact his multi-media Mysterium, which he was composing at his death, was intended to bring about the end of the world at its conclusion). Though most of his works are tonal, he was moving toward an atonal system of composition in his later works totally independent of Schoenberg.

His early piano works obviously pays homage to Chopin, but the later works get into wild single-movement creations. His most important piano works are his ten piano sonatas, which are beautifully played by the various artists here. They are alternately urgent, provocative, mystical and works filled with a calm reverie. The various Preludes are also of great interest. But you might still want to have the amazing Vladimir Horowitz Scriabin recordings (on Sony Classical Vol. iX). The Piano Concerto is one of the composer’s orchestral works. Vladimir Ashkenazy is the pianist with the London Philharmonic conducted by Loren Maazel. The public face of the introverted composer is reflected in the three numbered symphonies plus the Poem of Ecstasy, and Prometheus: The Poem of Fire – possibly two of Scriabin’s best orchestral works. I’ve always loved the Symphony No. 2, which gets an excellent performance conducted by Inbal – certainly better than the awful fidelity of the Soviet LPs. The conductors of these works are Gergiev, Ashkenazy and Inbal. All get exemplary performances.

One work is missing from the complete collection: The Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra. You can find it on Russian Disc RD CD 11004. It was later converted into a two-piano version, but that is also missing from the set.

The piano works, which make up the first nine discs, are impressive, and Lisitsa especially is an especially fine pianist who captures the special Scriabin feeling in her performances which combine sensitivity and expressiveness with a command of dynamics. The far-out mysticism of Scriabin in heard in most of these works. Scriabin is a totally fascinating Russian composer and this is probably the definitive collection of his works. Highly recommended!


NEW = new recordings just for this collection


Waltz in F Minor, Op. 1 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

3 Pieces for piano, Op. 2 [Vladimir Ashkenazy No.1 NEW / Valentina Lisitsa Nos. 2 & 3 NEW ]

10 Mazurkas, Op. 3 (1889) [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Allegro appassionato, Op. 4 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

2 Nocturnes, Op. 5 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]


Piano Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op. 6 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

2 Impromptus a la Mazur, Op. 7 (1892) [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

12 Etudes For Piano, Op. 8 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

12 Etudes For Piano, Op. 8 No.12 – (alternative version) [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW


Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand, Op. 9 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

2 Impromptus, Op.1 0 (1894) [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

24 Preludes for piano, Op. 11 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

2 Impromptus, Op. 12 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

6 Preludes, Op. 13 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

2 Impromptus, Op. 14 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW


5 Preludes, Op. 15 / 5 Preludes, Op. 16 / 7 Preludes, Op. 17 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Allegro de Concert, Op. 18 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

Piano Sonata No.2, In G Sharp Minor Op. 19 “”Sonata Fantasy”” [Ivo Pogorelich]

Polonaise, Op. 21 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

4 Preludes, Op. 22 NEW / Piano Sonata No.3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]


9 Mazurkas, Op. 25 (1899) [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

2 Preludes, Op. 27 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Fantasy in B minor, Op. 28 [Sviatoslav Richter]

Piano Sonata No.4 in F sharp major, Op. 30 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

4 Preludes, Op. 31 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

2 Poèmes, Op. 32 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

4 Preludes, Op. 33 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Poème tragique, Op. 34 [Jean Louis Steuerman]

3 Preludes, Op. 35 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]


Poème satanique, Op. 36 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

4 Preludes, Op. 37 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Waltz No.4, Op. 38 [Benjamin Grosvenor]

4 Preludes, Op    39 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

2 Mazurkas, Op. 40 [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Poème, Op. 41 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

8 Etudes, Op. 42 [Vladimir Ashkenazy] NEW

2 Poèmes, Op. 44 [Jean Louis Steuerman]

Trois Morceaux, Op. 45 [Vladimir Ashkenazy] NEW

Scherzo, Op. 46 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

Quasi Waltz, Op. 47 [Vladimir Ashkenazy] NEW

4 Preludes, Op. 48 (1905) [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Trois Morceaux, Op. 49 = Valentina Lisitsa (No. 1) NEW / Gordon Fergus-Thompson (No. 2) / Anna Gourari (No. 3)

Four Pieces, Op. 51 / 3 Pieces, Op. 52 NEW [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 53 [Sviatoslav Richter]


Quatre Morceaux, Op. 56 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

2 Pieces, Op. 57 [Vladimir Ashkenazy] NEW

Feuillet d’album, Op. 58 [ Vladimir Ashkenazy] NEW

Two Pieces, Op. 59 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

Poème-Nocturne, Op. 61 [Sviatoslav Richter]

Piano Sonata No. 6, Op. 62 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

2 Poèmes, Op. 63 [Vladimir Ashkenazy] NEW

Piano Sonata No. 7 (“”White Mass””), Op. 64 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

Three Etudes, Op. 65 [Valentina Lisitsa] Nos. 2 & 3 NEW


Piano Sonata No. 8, Op. 66 [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

2 Preludes, Op. 67 (1912-13) [Gordon Fergus-Thompson]

Piano Sonata No. 9, Op.68 “”Black Mass”” [Pierre-Laurent Aimard]

2 Poèmes, Op. 69 NEW / Piano Sonata No. 10, Op. 70 / Two Poèmes, Op. 71 NEW / Vers la flamme, Op. 72 NEW [Vladimir Ashkenazy]

2 Danses, Op. 73 [Sviatoslav Richter]

5 Preludes, Op. 74 [Vladimir Ashkenazy] NEW


Canon In D Minor, WoO 1 [Anna Gourari]

Romance in F Sharp Major, WoO 2 NEW / Nocturne in A Flat, WoO 3 NEW / Scherzo in E Flat, WoO 4 NEW / Scherzo in A Flat, WoO 5 NEW [Valentina Lisitsa]

Sonata-Fantasy In G Sharp Minor, WoO 6 [Roberto Szidon]

Valse in G Sharp Minor, WoO 7 NEW / Valse in D Flat Major, WoO 8 NEW / Variations in F Minor on a Theme by Mlle Egoroff, WoO 9 NEW / Duett in D minor, WoO 10 NEW* / Fugue in F Minor, WoO 12 NEW* / Fugue in F Minor, WoO 13 NEW* / Makurka in B Minor, WoO 14 NEW* / Mazurka in B Minor, WoO 15 NEW / Mazurka in F Major, WoO 16 NEW [Valentina Lisitsa]

*-recorded for the first time

Feuillet d’Album in A flat major op.posth. (1889) [Anna Gourari]

Fantasy in A Minor, WoO 18 [Vovka & Vladimir Ashkenazy]

Sonata in E flat minor (1887-89) [Roberto Szidon]

Fugue in E Minor, WoO 20 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

Romance in A Minor, WoO 21 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

Feuille d’Album in F Sharp Major, WoO 25 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW

Klavierstücke in B Flat Minor, Anh 16 [Valentina Lisitsa] NEW


Variations on a Russian folk song for string quartet (1898, by various composers/ Var. 2 by Alexander Scriabin)/ Kuss Quartet

Andante & Scherzo for Strings/ Hamburg Strings

Symphonic Poem in D Minor, WoO 24

Moscow Symphony Orchestra/ Igor Golovschin

Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20

Vladimir Ashkenazy/ London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Lorin Maazel

Rêverie, Op. 24

Radio-Symphonie-Orchester, Berlin/ Vladimir Ashkenazy


Symphony No. 1 in E, Op. 26

Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester, Berlin/ Vladimir Ashkenazy


Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 29

Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt/ Eliahu Inbal


Symphony No. 3 in C minor – “Le Poème Divin”

Radio-Symphonie-Orchester, Berlin/ Vladimir Ashkenazy


Le Poème de l’Extase, Op. 54

Kirov Orchestra, St Petersburg/ Valery Gergiev

Promethée – Le Poème du Feu, Op. 60

Alexander Toradze/ Kirov Orchestra, St Petersburg/ Valery Gergiev


Nuances: Piano pieces orchestrated by Alexander Nemtin

Preparation for the Final Mystery – Realised by Nemtin – Part 1 – Universe

Alexander Ghindin/ Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester, Berlin/ Vladimir Ashkenazy


Preparation for the Final Mystery – Realised by Alexander Nemtin – Part 2 – Mankind


Preparation for the Final Mystery – Realised by Alexander Nemtin – Part 3 – Transfiguration


Scriabin across the generations – performances by legendary pianists and artists of the younger generation

1. Etude In C Sharp Minor, Op. 2, No. 1

2. No. 12 in D sharp minor from 12 Etudes for piano, Op. 8

Vladimir Horowitz

3. Prelude in D Major, Op.11, No. 5 – Live In London / 1975

Shura Cherkassky

4. Vers la flamme, Op. 72

Sviatoslav Richter

5. Poème Op.32 No.1

Mikhail Pletnev

6. No. 5 In C Sharp Minor from 8 Etudes, Op. 42

7-10. Four Pieces, Op. 51

Yevgeny Kissin

11-13. Nos. 4, 6 and 9 from 10 Mazurkas, Op. 3 (1889)

Benjamin Grosvenor

14-15. Piano Sonata No. 2 In G Sharp Minor, Op.19 “”Sonata Fantasy”” – Live From Carnegie Hall, New York City / 2013 – Daniil Trifonov

*** Note: Op. 50 & 55 do not exist.

—John Sunier