Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
First of all, Welcome to the Dark Side.
MWAHAHAHAHAHA Are you sure you wish to proceed? ...
... if so, then let's get started.
That out of the way, you mention that you would like shorter pieces. How short? Some of Scriabin's pieces are one page long. Like:
Prelude, Op.16, No. 4 or No.5 (technically first period, starting the transition to second)
(I've noticed there is a version of No.4 on the site, but I personally feel that he's way too free with the tempo and looses some of the rhythmic emphasis...and some of the exactness of the figures... but ah, well ...also, see my note later on approaching Scriabin)
but wait, before we start looking through for performance pieces...
Actually, I just realized that I would need to first ask more questions, so in the mean time check out Scriabin's Preludes Op.16 and 17. Anything from Op.11 is well loved, but I'd rather try to find something that's not played as much, yet is still rather beautiful, moving, etc.
While you're looking at the previous two Opus (Opi?), I need to know how comfortable are you with polyrhythms? Scriabin loved to use 'unusual' time signatures and rhythmic figures and some of them can get quite complex. Look at Opus 16, No.3 and tell me how comfortable you would be with the right hand near the end - (don't play the 5's as 6's! or rubato them over! use a metronome for this assessment). (Again there is a recording of this but it's too free with the tempo and there's not enough attention paid to the phrasing, dynamics, esp where r.h. not same as l.h., etc - I don't want to sound like I'm picking on anyone and haven't really seen if the performer would appreciate my sometimes vitriolic critique so I'll leave it at that.) This is Scriabin at some of his most Chopinesque, especially the lead from measures 24 through 27. For Scriabin this isn't much since the left hand is in straight four throughout. I would like to see you try something more challenging, but if someone is not used to playing Scriabin sometimes the modulations of tonality are enough of a challenge. Give me some more feedback about this particular piece (i.e. Op.16, No.3) whether you feel comfortable enough to try something more challenging - and I'm confident that you would be.
Also give me some feedback regarding 3 Morceaux, Op.52 especially No 1, Poeme. This has a few tricky polyrhythmic figures but not too many and is obviously from his final period. I'm suggesting some of these to begin with not necessarily as pieces to choose for a final recording but rather to let me know which direction you'd like to explore first.
That should give you a few to go through for now. I'd be impressed if you started one of his Piano Sonatas, but they're usually much longer and more complex; and Scriabin wrote a LOT of his Preludes and Etudes based on figures that he more fully develops in the Piano Sonatas. At least look over the rhythms of Piano Sonata, No. 7, Op.64 especially measures 29-59, and again at measure 169 and onward (Tempo I - foudroyant
[babelfish says "striking down"]). Although I'm confident you could master this piece, it might be a bit much to start with, but look it over from a speed that's comfortable with a focus upon the rhythmic figures (maybe a metronome
). Remember with Scriabin, I feel it's MOST important to start out learning the piece in STRICT
tempo, then later after you've 'gotten' the rhythm...
(sometimes it takes me three or four attempts to even understand what Scriabin was trying to say - both rhythmically AND melodically, but when you do 'get it', it will be unmistakable. Sometimes I've found myself leaping up from the piano bench exclaiming "Yes!!! Yes!!! How &j8(*4ing beautiful!!! How &j8(*4ing perfect!!!". So remember that if the first time you play through it, if it sounds atonal, then look at it again. In my experience with Scriabin's music, I have NEVER found ANYTHING of Scriabin's that is atonal. He just experimented on the edges of known tonality even incorporating Eastern/Middle Eastern style scales (such as in Prelude Op.67,No.1), and sometimes he likes to change keys A LOT (such as Piano Sonata No.3, Op. 23 especially IV measures 174-182ish), etc. Also please note, that once you 'get it', you can never go back!!! Are you sure you wish to proceed?
MWAHAHAHAHA If you are sure then let's proceed, but know that you will never look at music quite the same way ever again.)
...later after you've 'gotten' the rhythm, then and only then should you add rubato and feeling, etc.
I feel almost an obligation to ask you to consider yet a third time and final time if you're ready to cross over.
For if you choose to proceed, you might find yourself listening to and playing music so exalted, so passionate, so transcendant, that the uninitiated will merely look at you strangely, and exclaim "WHAT is THAT?". You will become a partaker of the deeper Mysterium of Scriabin.
and if so, then WELCOME WELCOME WELCOME
I hope I didn't scare you too much.
I'll be eagerly awaiting your views/choices for further exploration...
Love is the law, love under will.
P.S. Almost all of Scriabin's Piano Music is published in three volumes from Dover Books:
1 The Complete Preludes and Etudes for Pianoforte Solo
2 Mazurkas, Poemes, Impromptus and other Works for Piano
3 Complete Piano Sonatas
Since these are Dover books, you can usually get them for about US$20/each. Amazon may have better deals, if you're serious about playing Scriabin these are fairly good starter editions that usually tell you 'if' and 'where' the editor has 'corrected' Scriabin's MSs. I usually restore my versions to what was contained in Scriabin's manuscripts, since editors are usually wrong and didn't fully understand what Scriabin was saying. E.G. Op.13, No.1 measures 34 and 38 should CLEARLY be a natural sign, NOT the flat, etc, etc. (Dover Edition)