Alexander Scriabin created an original, exotic soundworld which progressed from Chopinesque romanticism in the First Sonata to a world of fantasy, inhabited by uncompromising, audacious dissonances in the later Sonatas which make overwhelming demands on any performer who dares to tackle them. In his third Sonata Scriabin provided descriptions of the four movements under the heading ‘States of the Soul’. In the Fourth he experimented with Wagner’s Tristan harmonies. By the Sixth Sonata Scriabin’s harmonic tonality had completely broken down and dissipated – “frightening...dark and mysterious, impure, dangerous” as he himself wrote. The Seventh Sonata (White Mass) instructs the performer to play ‘with a heavenly voluptuousness’, ‘with a darkRead more majesty’... Through the music he wanted to express an ecstatic disorder creating a trance-like effect on performer and audience. The Ninth (Black Mass) represents the Satanic but the Tenth has an opening marked ‘very sweetly and pure’. He said of this, ‘My Tenth Sonata is a sonata of insects.
In February 2015 pianist Peter Donohue undertook a remarkable tour de force of concentration, stamina, and technical prowess by playing all ten Scriabin sonatas in a single recital. Fortunately he had an entire six days to make this studio recording of the cycle - still quite an undertaking - yet there's nothing in these recordings that sounds remotely ragged, tired, dynamically compromised or phoned in. It's a tribute to his authority and experience that his interpretations hold their own among the competition in a crowded and competitive catalog.