'Time to listen with new ears'
composer GORDON RUMSON admires
Let us be clear: the Opus Clavicembalisticum (OC for short)
is neither Sorabji's longest composition nor necessarily his best work.
It is however his 'Masterwork' in the old Guild sense: the first of his
compositions to prove his skill and mastery. This makes it crucial for trying
to understand what follows, though at present, because so few pianists have
the skill and time, the subsequent major (often longer) works are as yet
unplayed and judgment about them must be hedged.
Composed in 1929/30 the OC is in one sense a giant magnification
of Busoni's Fantasia Contrappuntistica in its formalist layout
(introit, chorale, fugues, etc). This is not itself a bad thing for
it ties Sorabji so definitely to the aesthetic of that great composer's
most significant work for piano. It also ties both works to Bach's Art
of Fugue whence came Busoni's original impetus.
[Listen - example 1: Introit, opening CD
1 Track 1, 00:06 - 01:06]
But Sorabji does not merely imitate Busoni. Much past commentary upon
Sorabji has tried to point out resemblances to this composer and that. This
is useful when so little is known. But after a while, hearing that Sorabji
was influenced by say Godowsky is not terribly helpful. Suffice to say that
once tasted and identified, Sorabji's music is instantly recognisable as
Sorabji. He is not derivative, though he derives techniques and methods
from many disparate sources (Palestrina, Gregorian chant, chorale, fugue,
Godowsky, Liszt and so on).
[Listen - example 2: Fugue Dux Quartus.
CD 5 Track 4, 00:00 - 01:00]
Copyright © 16
June 2000 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM AMAZON
PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM CROTCHET
CD INFORMATION - BIS CD 1062-66
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