“Scriabin… Where does he come from? And who are his forebears?” – Stravinsky
I can think of no other composer whose musical evolution spanned greater stylistic change than Scriabin. His early works were rooted firmly in the romantic tradition, and earned him the sobriquet “The Russian Chopin”. His later works were written, to quote Wikipedia, in “an increasingly atonal musical language that presaged 12-tone composition and other serial music.”
Scriabin’s fifth sonata falls squarely in the middle of his stylistic development. Written in 1907, it marks the end of his Romantic period and the beginning of his atonal period.
Performed here by the incomparable Marc-Andre Hamelin, the 5th is Scriabin’s most frequently programmed sonata, although Sviatoslav Richter (whose recording of it served as my introduction to this piece) is reported to have described it as the most difficult piece in the entire piano repertory.