Piano Sonata No. 4 (Scriabin)

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The Piano Sonata No. 4 in F-sharp major, Op. 30, was written by Alexander Scriabin possibly around 1903 and first published in 1904. It consists of two movements, Andante and Prestissimo volando, and is the shortest of Scriabin's sonatas (a typical performance takes about 8 minutes).

Stylistic traits[edit]

The sonata is written in a post-Romantic style, similar to Scriabin's other works of the time, and the mood could be described as erotic. The first movement, expressive and calm, is monothematic (based on a single theme). The second movement, celebratory and climactic, starts attacca right after the Andante movement.

A more Romantic idea is the use of cyclic form in restating the Andante’s main theme (dolcissimo) as the ecstatic climax of the Prestissimo volando movement (Focosamente, giubiloso). This outlay appears closely related to the last two movements from the 3rd sonata, also linked by an attacca, where the climax of the finale likewise restates the lyrical Andante theme of the third movement. Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff often restated the lyric theme of the finale movement as climactic coda (for example in the piano concertos). Scriabin instead returns to the 'slow' movement’s theme, and this may have led to further experiments with a condensation of form in the one-single-movement 5th sonata where the climax (estatico) is again a restatement of the Languido theme (dolcissimo).

Background[edit]

Scriabin wrote a poem after composing this sonata that explains its meaning:[1]

In a light mist, transparent vapor

Lost afar and yet distinct

A star gleams softly.

How beautiful! The bluish mystery

Of her glow

Beckons me, cradles me.

O bring me to thee, far distant star!

Bathe me in trembling rays

Sweet light!

Sharp desire, voluptuous and crazed yet sweet

Endlessly with no other goal than longing

I would desire

But no! I vault in joyous leap

Freely I take wing

Mad dance, godlike play!

Intoxicating, shining one!

It is toward thee, adored star

My flight guides me

Mad dance, godlike play!

Intoxicating, shining one!

Toward thee, created freely for me

To serve the end

My flight of liberation!

In this play

Sheer caprice

In moments I forget thee

In the maelstrom that carries me

I veer from they glimmering rays

In the intensity of desire

Thou fadest

O distant goal

But ever thou shinest

As I forever desire thee!

Thou expandest, Star!

Now thou art a Sun

Flamboyant Sun! Sun of Triumph!

Approaching thee by my desire for thee

I lave myself in they changing waves

O joyous god

I swallow thee

Sea of light

My self-of-light

I engulf thee!

External links[edit]