Piano Sonata No. 2 (Scriabin)

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Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in G-sharp minor, (Op. 19, also titled Sonata-Fantasy) took five years for him to write. It was finally published in 1898, at the urging of his publisher. The piece is in two movements, with a style combining Chopin-like Romanticism with an impressionistic touch. The piece is widely appreciated and is one of Scriabin's more popular pieces.

The first movement Andante begins with echoing effects, followed by two lyrically themed sections. After a short climax, the piece modulates to E major (also C-sharp minor) and lyrical sections are restated with a slightly more complicated accompaniment. The second movement Presto, in sharp contrast to the first movement, is very fast and intense. In fact, at the given tempo indication, the second movement averages nearly 15 notes per second, making it comparable to an étude. Alternating crescendos and decrescendos may give the listener the impression of waves.

The precedent of Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata allowed Scriabin the luxury of an opening slow movement to his Second Sonata, whose programme reads thus: "The first section represents the quiet of a southern night on the seashore; the development is the dark agitation of the deep, deep sea. The E major middle section shows caressing moonlight coming up after the first darkness of night. The second movement represents the vast expanse of ocean in stormy agitation."[1]

Like Scriabin's other sonatas, it is both technically and musically highly demanding for the pianist and is written for large hands (in fact, there is an enormous reach of a twelfth, although many pianists[who?] will agree that this implies an unnotated arpeggio). The piece lasts about 11 minutes.


  1. ^ Nicholls, Simon, Scriabin: The Complete Piano Sonatas - CDA67131/2 [programme notes], Hyperion Records, retrieved 7 June 2017

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