Scriabin: The Complete Piano Sonatas; Vers la flamme, Op 72

Reviewed on Mon 12 Dec, 2016

All of the pieces benefit from an intelligent interrogation that encompasses the conventional and the idiosyncratic with an eloquence that binds both seamlessly together.

Peter Donohoe came late to Scriabin, the composer wholly absent from his repertoire during his first 40 years at the piano. This rich, varied and often illuminating survey of the 10 piano sonatas (with Vers la flamme serving as a ripe encore) bears all the marks of the evangelicalism of the newly converted. Especially admirable is Donohoe’s trajectory from the three early sonatas solidly entrenched in romanticism to the later arcane works revelling in ever-increasing complexity. Donohoe lights on much of interest throughout; the darkly exhilarating funeral march in the First, imbuing the Fourth with Debussy-like fantasy and jazz-like spontaneity, gleefully firing up the incandescent ‘White Mass’ that is the Seventh, lending poetic delicacy to the vertiginous virtuosity of the Tenth. All of the pieces benefit from an intelligent interrogation that encompasses the conventional and the idiosyncratic with an eloquence that binds both seamlessly together. Demanding but rewarding.
–Michael Quinn