Vers la flamme

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Vers la flamme (Toward the flame), Op. 72, is one of Alexander Scriabin's last pieces for piano, written in 1914.

The main motif of the piece is very simple, consisting of descending half steps or whole steps interspersed with impressionistic representations of fire. This piece was intended to be Scriabin's eleventh sonata; however, he had to publish it early because of financial concerns. Hence the piece is labelled a poem, rather than a sonata. Though scored in C Major, like many of Scriabin's late works the piece does not conform to classical harmony and is instead built on the mystic chord and modal transpositions of its tone center. Typical performances last five or six minutes. The piece is notorious for its difficulty, in particular the enormous leaps and long, unusual double-note trills in the final pages.

According to pianist Vladimir Horowitz, the piece was inspired by Scriabin's eccentric conviction that a constant accumulation of heat would ultimately cause the destruction of the world.[1] The piece's title reflects the earth's fiery destruction, and the constant emotional buildup and crescendo throughout the piece lead, ultimately, "toward the flame".

Notable pianists who have performed the work include Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Grigory Sokolov. However, many of the most celebrated recordings are by specialists of Scriabin, such as Vladimir Sofronitsky, Ruth Laredo, Heinrich Neuhaus, Stanislav Neuhaus and Igor Zhukov.

The piece has been orchestrated by composer-conductor Arkady Leytush. In 2018 Andrey Kasparov produced a treatment for piano duo.[2]


  1. ^ Horowitz in television footage included in "Horowitz: A Reminiscence", TV broadcast 1993. Released as Kultur Films DVD 2007.
  2. ^ Coles, Adelaide (2018-04-23). "Artsong Update | Reviews | Norfolk Chamber Consort: Teacher and His Two Students". Retrieved 2019-02-08.

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