Alexander Scriabin’s creative career described a brilliant but tragic trajectory. He began as a pianistic prodigy in an elaborated Chopinesque style, as exemplified by his early Piano Concerto, sonatas and etudes. But his development was prodigious, and by the start of the 20th century he was capitalising with truly Russian fervour on the influence of Wagner – and the imaginative stimulus of the grandiose esoteric beliefs he was developing from Nietzsche and Theosophy – to create a personal language heady and erotically voluptuous in its chromatic freedom, extravagant and flamboyant in its gestures. This new language reached its apotheosis in the orchestral Poème de l’extase and Promethée and the heaven-storming Fifth, aloofly hermetic Sixth, and triumphant Seventh (White Mass) Piano Sonatas.These latter works, however, already show a trend towards concision (they are all in one movement) and to allusive but logical development out of germinal motifs and chordal structures – characteristics which Scriabin continued to explore and refine in the ever more inward, mystically self-communing piano works of his last years. In Scriabin, virtuosity is innate in the musical ideas themselves: it is the medium of communication with the divine, the portal to Nirvana.