This CD is the product of a perfect combination. Horowitz is the greatest pianist of this century (especially when it comes to romantic and post-romantic music) and Scriabin is a genius of a composer. And everything on this CD is true to both of these giants' qualities.
When I first decided to buy this disc, Scriabin struck me as an interesting but rather radical composer, with some music stemming directly from the influence of the great romantics, and some the result of his own ideas and experimentations. The latter initially sounded too dissonant and sometimes even disorganized; however, after listening to some of the later pieces a few more times, they began to make perfect sense. To someone unacquainted with Scriabin's music, this will likely be the case with the Sonata #5 and a few of the last preludes. The other works here take less getting used to ,but in the end, the effect is essentially the same throughout. Scriabin's music is laden with raw emotion and reveals the mind and soul of a man with deep convictions, but who was ultimately tormented by the world around him (the basis for his music and his mystical beliefs). He would gradually move from a style heavily influenced by Chopin to one all his own. One can compare him to Beethoven in that both were fantastic pianists with an individual compositional style that could not fit into a rigid classification (classical, romantic, impressionist, etc.) much less be compared to the music of others before and after them. I find it both surprising and disappointing that Scriabin is not that well known (he is adeqautely revered perhaps only in Russia). Although a great deal of it is unconventional, there is a lot that one would find in Scriabin's music if they would only listen.
When Horowitz was ten years old, he met Scriabin who gave some advice to his mother about guiding the young pianist. Horowitz considered Scriabin to be a significant element of his own artistic being and had both an affinity and a deep understanding of Scriabin's music. These qualities would serve him well throughout his career, but are displayed to perfection here. The effect is deeply moving, and sometimes even frightening. Personally, I believe that this album is an ideal way to become acquainted with Scriabin's music because it encompasses almost the entire span of his career. For the price, it is also an exceptional bargain; in my opinion it could easily sell for more. I strongly recommend this disc to anyone who likes 19th (or 20th) century piano music, and especially to those who like Scriabin but have not heard these performances. They outdo most others including Horowitz's Sony (Columbia) recordings of some of Scriabin's works (those renditions, though somewhat inferior to this one, are still quite excellent as well). This album deserves a music lover's attention as it sums up the genius of both Horowitz and Scriabin.