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About music in general => Performance and technique => Topic started by: davetubaking on October 26, 2011, 11:44:49 am



Title: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: davetubaking on October 26, 2011, 11:44:49 am
A virtual performance of the second movement of Sorabji's Toccata Seconda. Preludio-Corale. (http://mp3.davetubaking.com.davetubaking.com/MP3s/Toccata%20No%2002%20%28Sorabji%29%20-%2002%20Preludio-corale.mp3)

Not performed since the composer's first and only performance in 1934.

Much of this is fairly simple and transparent with some lovely lyrical moments. He does rather unexpectedly however go into one of his volcanic endings reminiscent of Opus C' written four years earlier  with a huge C Major chord splashed all over the piano only to be stabbed through the heart with a simultaneous Bb and B Major full stop chord.

If you liked that you can hear the first movement here (http://www.davetubaking.com/resources/Preludio-Toccata+from+Toccata+Seconda.mp3).

Created as ever with Sibelius 7 and the Vienna Symphonic Library.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on October 26, 2011, 11:56:19 am
Many thanks for those Your Majesty! What an expense of time effort and dedication on your part. Possibly more than the composer's, even. I shall look forward to familiarizing myself with them while out on the constitutional.

Where Sorabji is concerned we always worry about the FORM do we not. In his lengthier works it can be exceedingly difficult to pick out patterns repetitions and developments. As serious and discerning Art-worshippers we must have faith that they are there. But these ones you did are not over-long, and I enjoyed the preludio-toccata very much (ignoring as best I could certain obtrusive suggestions of the negro "jazz" style). I am not after a first hearing so sure about the chorale though; it sounds something like Bach without the oomph.

Most music achieves its mirroring of movements of the mind through an alternation of tension with relaxation. But as I have noted before, Sorabji is rather different. Instead of that alternation, his instinct seems to be: first go up in a sequence, then go down in a sequence, and he really is capable of continuing thus throughout a movement. It has an improvisatory effect, but it is difficult to relate the pulse of the music to any impulses of the soul.

It would be nice to be able to do something similar to your efforts in the case of all those symphonies that have been performed once (if at all) and never again - not just Sorabji's I mean but those of every prematurely forgotten composer. It is something the B.B.C. should be doing of course, but they have now been irretrievably corrupted by the Porkies. So through the computer is the only way these works will ever be heard (if indeed the lady librarians have not tipped them out by now).


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 13, 2011, 09:30:10 am
Many thanks for those Your Majesty! What an expense of time effort and dedication on your part. Possibly more than the composer's, even. I shall look forward to familiarizing myself with them while out on the constitutional.

Where Sorabji is concerned we always worry about the FORM do we not. In his lengthier works it can be exceedingly difficult to pick out patterns repetitions and developments.
Do "we" really? Who's "we" in this particular instance. The form of the various movements in this multi-movement work which happens to be the last that the composer ever played in public himself is surely not difficult to grasp and is indeed arguably even more transparent than might be said to be the cose with others of his large-scale multi-movement works.

ignoring as best I could certain obtrusive suggestions of the negro "jazz" style)
What?! It's not hard to ignore what's not there! To the great Arnold's wry and obviously tongue-in-cheek claim that his method of composing with twleve tones would "ensure the supremacy of German music for the next hundred years", Ronald Stevenson noted that this was a "strange idea for an Austrian Jew to have; likewise, the kind of "jazz" that you so inappropriately describe here might arguably constitute a strange intrusion into the work of a Parsi/English composer.

I am not after a first hearing so sure about the chorale though; it sounds something like Bach without the oomph.
What precisely is "oomph" in Bach and how might Sorabji have contrived to excise it?

Most music achieves its mirroring of movements of the mind through an alternation of tension with relaxation. But as I have noted before, Sorabji is rather different. Instead of that alternation, his instinct seems to be: first go up in a sequence, then go down in a sequence, and he really is capable of continuing thus throughout a movement. It has an improvisatory effect, but it is difficult to relate the pulse of the music to any impulses of the soul.
Not every soul shares identical impulses (most fortunately!). Whilst I accept to some degree the principle of your first observation here, I am not impressed - as you appear to be - that Sorabji flouts or even avoids this principle.

It would be nice to be able to do something similar to your efforts in the case of all those symphonies that have been performed once (if at all) and never again - not just Sorabji's I mean but those of every prematurely forgotten composer. It is something the B.B.C. should be doing of course, but they have now been irretrievably corrupted by the Porkies. So through the computer is the only way these works will ever be heard (if indeed the lady librarians have not tipped them out by now).
Far from "prematurely forgotten", Sorabji and his music are vastly better known now than was the case 35 years ago when there were hardly any performances, no commercial recordings, only one very small (and far from accurate or well-presented) new edition, most of his scores were unpublished and those that had been were about to start going out of print; his music has since been performed and broadcast in more than 20 countries, all of his scores are readily available from us (see www.sorabji-archive.co.uk for further details) and some 35 recordings of or including his music have been issued, many of which remain available today. For the record, it was indeed a then BBC female librarian who ordered many of the composer's scores from us a long time ago and I've no reason to assume that these have subsequently been discarded. So far, just one of Sorabji's seven piano symphonies has been performed and recorded (the fifth and shortest). Whilst I and many other admirers of Sorabji are immensely delighted with the efforts that the estimable Mr Carter has made and continues to make on his behalf, what is needed most are new accurate typeset editions and then live performances, as I'm sure Mr Carter himself would agree. He is nevertheless to be thanked profusely for all of his work in the Sorabji cause.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 13, 2011, 12:26:39 pm
So far, just one of Sorabji's seven piano symphonies has been performed and recorded (the fifth and shortest).

I've been personally responsible for programming and promoting Sorabji premieres in Moscow, even to the extent of hosting the soloist in my own home for these events.

The halls in which these have been performed have not been the largest - but at each one we've had to put out extra seating.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 13, 2011, 05:53:18 pm
So far, just one of Sorabji's seven piano symphonies has been performed and recorded (the fifth and shortest).

I've been personally responsible for programming and promoting Sorabji premieres in Moscow, even to the extent of hosting the soloist in my own home for these events.

The halls in which these have been performed have not been the largest - but at each one we've had to put out extra seating.
Then good for you. Mr Powell, I presume? Please tell us more; even though I'm pretty certain that I know about these performances already, others here may not, so fire away. When you did this, I assume that you did not consider Sorabji to be the "prematurely forgotten composer" as whom he has rather absurdly (not to say patronisingly) been portrayed here recently; would I be correct in this? Perhaps, when answering this, you might care also to provide some more details of your involvement in these Moscow performances.

Now - to return properly to the subject here. I am puzzled as to why anyone might think that any sense of improvisation apparent in the opening movement of Sorabji's Toccata Seconda should strike anyone as any kind of pejorative in any case; SG has invoked Bach in the context of his response on this, yet he has signally avoided any mention of the obvious parallel between that movement and Bach's Chromatic Fantasia, a work which clearly meant a great deal to Sorabji, since not only does he kick off his Toccata Seconda with a clear reference to its opening but he returns to it again in the scale study that is one of the later of his 100 Transcendatal Studies for piano AND, in between these works, he actually made a transcription of Bach's original. Since Bach and his contemporaries and immediate predecessors / successors placed great value on the art of improvisation and in the incorporation of a sense of improvisation in certain of their through-composed works, it seems most strange that anyone might consider pointing an admonitory finger at Sorabji for writing a movement that suggests the art of improvisation as it was widely understood and accepted in the Baroque era.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on November 13, 2011, 10:23:44 pm
Ah . . . now that is most interesting. The Chromatic Fantasia . . . a strange thing that . . . I must admit it had not crossed my mind before reading Mr. H's response. I will have another listen to both works and come back.

In regard to the whiff of "jazz," is that not simply something almost inescapably pervading the spirit of so much produced in the early '-twenties - "why should I bother amid the general insanity?" - "who cares about wrong notes - the more the merrier" - that sort of thing? Or have I got that wrong?


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 13, 2011, 11:09:15 pm
Ah . . . now that is most interesting. The Chromatic Fantasia . . . a strange thing that . . . I must admit it had not crossed my mind before reading Mr. H's response. I will have another listen to both works and come back.

In regard to the whiff of "jazz," is that not simply something almost inescapably pervading the spirit of so much produced in the early '-twenties - "why should I care amid the general insanity?" - "who cares about wrong notes - the more the merrier" - that sort of thing? Or have I got that wrong?
You've certainly gotten it entirely wrong in Sorabji's case; for all the value that he placed upon the ability to improvise (and the great tradition of that activity), he detested anything "jazz"-oriented with quite disproportionate vehemence, once describing some of Gershwin's concert works to me as mere "barlines with the same music music either side of them" and, when I asked what he meant by that, he simply said, "the man seemed incapable of taking any idea, banal or otherwise, on a journey anywhere - he says two words, then he says them again a bit differently, then he does the same again over and over and then he stops", adding that "organic development seems not only unnecessary but anathema to him". These were his words; they are not mine. At the same time, he expressed immense admiration for Cole Porter and regarded him (as a song composer) as a kind of American Poulenc only with greater subtlety. I think that you've also got it wrong in the sense that "the spirit of so much produced in the early 20s" touched Sorabji but little (other than the extent to which much of it was wont to irritate him); it's not as simple as that, of course (such things never are!) but, for the sake of argument, if one seeks to compare what, say, Milhaud, Stravinsky and others were doing (especially in the environs of Paris) at that time with Sorabji's piano works such as Le Jardin Parfumé, Toccata No. 1 and Sonata No. 4 and with his First Organ Symphony, it will take no time at all to realise that these two phenomena were worlds apart, although it's also fair to point out that Sorabji's 1920s music was likewise at a great distance from anything else that was going on in English music in those days.

The opening movement of Toccata II does is indeed have a sense of controlled improvisatory exploration about it - so (albeit in very different ways and to very different ends) do works such as Le Jardin Parfumé, Gulistān, etc. - but then what's wrong with that? I think also that you need to bear in mind that you're referring here to just one movement in a multi-movement work. Admittedly, Sorabji does not go in for the kinds of highly concentrated intricate motivic/thematic relationship developments in order to achieve the sense of organic growth that one might associate with the Schönberg of the D minor quartet (taking as he did for his examples Liszt, Wagner and Brahms), but then for one thing he wasn't Schönberg and, for another, the two composers did at least place value on the achievement of organic development; it's a case of quite different ways of arriving at not dissimilar results (technically speaking, that is - the actual music sounds very different, of course). Sorabji is still best known for very large-scale pieces, which is in some ways rather a pity because some two-thirds of his works would fit confortably into concert programmes of more or less conventional length; however, when writing his large works, he was always acutely conscious of the micro as well as the macro and maintained a strong sense of the requirement to ensure that each event in the course of his narrative was correctly proportioned and occurred at just the right time, even though, in order to do this, he did very little preliminary sketching.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 14, 2011, 03:18:49 pm
When you did this, I assume

Oh, I know you assume, Mr H.  You do it all the time.

Do you have some kind of sole proprietor status with regards to Sorabji's music, then?

[ . . . ]


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 14, 2011, 04:38:46 pm
When you did this, I assume
Oh, I know you assume, Mr H.  You do it all the time.
Not at all. When I'm uncertain of something, I either assume or I don't; when I'm certain of something, I don't. I hope that this is clear enough for you.

Do you have some kind of sole proprietor status with regards to Sorabji's music, then?
I do indeed, but I have from the outset always preceived my duties towards it as the very oppposite of proprietorial; had you any idea what taking responsibility for Sorabji's work has entailed for me over the years in which I've done so, you might have some idea as to how and why that is so.

If you are the composer's representative, I'm hardly surprised his music rarely gets performed. Who would tolerate the rudeness involved in the correspondence?
Let's take this one bit at a time.

There's no "if" about it; I am the composer's representative.

Your allegation that you are "hardly surprised" appears to be based on your having first made as assumption (oh dear - mustn't make those, must we?!), namely that Sorabji's music "rarely gets performed", yet you offer no clue as to what "rarely" might mean to you in this context; on the one hand, he gets vastly fewer performances and broadcasts than, say, Stravinsky or Shostakovich, of course but, on the other, he gets vastly more than ever he used to, not least because it is now easily possible to obtain all of his scores and because a number of dedicated editors have made handwritten - and, more recently, typeset - editions of some of them and the sheer hard work and dedicaton of the editors in something for which I am for very good reason immensely grateful.

I have no idea what or whose "rudeness" in what "correspondence" (if any) that you may have in mind here but, for the avoidance of doubt, I should perhaps make it clear that no one needs to apply to me for permission to perform Sorabji's music, although we're always pleased to receive news about any such actual or proposed performances; you, for example, tell me that you organised some Sorabji performances in Moscow, so I am puzzled as to what obstructions of discouragement you appear to imply that you might have encountered when so doing and you do nothing to clarify what they were, if indeed there were any.

I accept that it is a pity that Sorabji's music found scant opportunities to impact upon the consciousness of listeners until he was in his 80s; it is also a pity that, despite surviving to age 96, he witnessed only the beginnings of performances of and interest in his work. It has been and remains an honour and privilege to be entrusted with responsibility for it. If any of that strikes you as "rude" or in any way discouraging of such performances and such interest, then so be it, I guess; that's your choice and yours alone, based upon what I can only imagine are your own "assumptions".


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 14, 2011, 06:29:28 pm
Compare and contrast:

Your allegation that you are "hardly surprised" appears to be based on your having first made as assumption (oh dear - mustn't make those, must we?!), namely that Sorabji's music "rarely gets performed", yet you offer no clue as to what "rarely" might mean to you in this context

Quote
So far, just one of Sorabji's seven piano symphonies has been performed and recorded (the fifth and shortest).

There is only one single argument for performing music - and that's because it is good. Nothing else matters. THE MAGIC FLUTE is an extraordinary work covering most of the the vast range of human emotions in a single work. BASTIEN & BASTIENNE is dreck.  Both are by Mozart.  Yet the latter gets performances (including one staged by myself - under contractual obligation) - purely because the composer of THE MAGIC FLUTE wrote it.  We'd do far better to devote the performance resources to something by Salieri.

Works of art should not depend on external heart-tugging circumstances for their popularity. I've staged Ullmann's THE KAISER OF ATLANTIS, because it's a stunningly good piece of music-theatre. I turned down a production (and a big fee) of Fried's DIARY OF ANNE FRANK because it's sentimental tosh.  [They found someone else, and I went to see what had been done - sadly it was a fiasco, and the producers closed it after the opening night.  The topic deserved better than it got.]

I really don't care whether Sorabji had a happy life or a sad one. What matters is whether the music is any good.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 14, 2011, 06:48:31 pm
Compare and contrast:


Your allegation that you are "hardly surprised" appears to be based on your having first made as assumption (oh dear - mustn't make those, must we?!), namely that Sorabji's music "rarely gets performed", yet you offer no clue as to what "rarely" might mean to you in this context


So far, just one of Sorabji's seven piano symphonies has been performed and recorded (the fifth and shortest).
Compare and contrast what, exactly? The point at issue here is that, 35 years or so ago, hardly any of Sorabji's works had been performed or broadcast and none recorded. There have since been performances of almost two-thirds of them in over 20 countries and there have been some 35 recordings made, of which many remain available today. Yes. there's a long way to go, but...

There is only one single argument for performing music - and that's because it is good. Nothing else matters. THE MAGIC FLUTE is an extraordinary work covering most of the the vast range of human emotions in a single work. BASTIEN & BASTIENNE is dreck.  Both are by Mozart.  Yet the latter gets performances (including one staged by myself - under contractual obligation) - purely because the composer of THE MAGIC FLUTE wrote it.  We'd do far better to devote the performance resources to something by Salieri.
Much as I agree with you here, the problem is and will always be that, in most cases, there will never be general consensus on what's good and what isn't; furthermore, music has to be performed first before people can decide for themselves whether or not they might think it to be good.

Works of art should not depend on external heart-tugging circumstances for their popularity. I've staged Ullmann's THE KAISER OF ATLANTIS, because it's a stunningly good piece of music-theatre. I turned down a production (and a big fee) of Fried's DIARY OF ANNE FRANK because it's sentimental tosh.  [They found someone else, and I went to see what had been done - sadly it was a fiasco, and the producers closed it after the opening night.  The topic deserved better than it got.]
Fair comment.

I really don't care whether Sorabji had a happy life or a sad one. What matters is whether the music is any good.
But did anyone ask you to care about that? Most people who listen to his music will not have met or corresponded with him. Apart from that, I agree with you.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on November 15, 2011, 12:18:31 am
A note here in regard to the sense of form in Sorabjit: Mr. Lebrecht tells us that "his music has to be heard many times before any sense can be made of structure or intent." This is in fact encouraging, since it implies that there IS structure to be found in it by one who is willing to persevere.

And a question - an obvious one really which I should have asked Mr. H. earlier - the name "Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji," what language is it? And what do the three words - presumably chosen by the composer himself - signify?

All I know is that a "Parsee" - which according to the Grove Dictionary is what Sorabji père was - is one of the descendants of those Persians who fled to India in the seventh and eighth centuries to escape Muslim persecution, and who still retain their religion (Zoroastrianism); in other words a "Guebre."


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 15, 2011, 07:46:07 am
All I know is that a "Parsee" - which according to the Grove Dictionary is what Sorabji père was - is one of the descendants of those Persians who fled to India in the seventh and eighth centuries to escape Muslim persecution, and who still retain their religion (Zoroastrianism); in other words a "Guebre."

The term parsee/parsi was originally one with which Zoroastrian adherents were dubbed by locals when they arrived in India. It may have originally indicated Persian ethnicity, but might also just be a more general term to indicate people who had probably come from Persia?  (The Zoroastrian belief in Persia attracted many adherents from all parts of Middle Asia, and accepted them all willingly - Persian or not). The term was only adopted by the Zoroastrian community in India much later, but they now use it enthusiastically.  There appear to have been two distinct waves of migration of Zoroastrians from Caspian parts to India. The first was in the C10th, when the community in Persia suffered greatly from religious persecution there. The second came in the latter C19th, when the community at the Surukhany Fire-Temple (in what is now Azerbaijan, and was then the Kingdom of Persia) became convinced of the need to relocate.  This is generally attributed to the weakening of the natural gas jets which percolated directly out of the ground at the Temple, and caused the appearance of fire springing from the very ground, witnessed by Polo and other travellers. (Of course, Azerbaijan remains a major producer of gas and petroleum products today, even if the particular field at Surukhany has dropped to a trickle).  The rise of Bolshevism in Persia put the final lid on Zoroastrianism as a major force, but even in 1983 when I visited Surukhany there were still a few wizened wisebeards tending the temple. "Sky burial" (ie leaving the corpses of dead adherents on rocky outcrops, so the vultures took the bones) was forbidden by the Soviet authorities - a major tenet for Zoroastrians, as I was led to believe by one of the old men I met there.

(http://www.alacs.biz/upload/images/bo3.jpg)

The present authorities in Azerbaijan - the Aliev Dynasty of allegedly "elected" "democratic" leaders - have no greater love of religions which might usurp their autocratic authority, and whilst they are pleased to have the tourism revenue from gawpers at Surukhany, they certainly want no return of a belief (or believers) which might not cede precedence in all matters to the Aliev family.

Perhaps Mr Hinton can tell us more authoratitively about Sorabji's personal background and beliefs? Clearly he must have had strong convictions that led him to change his given name?


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 15, 2011, 08:05:35 am
A note here in regard to the sense of form in Sorabjit: Mr. Lebrecht tells us that "his music has to be heard many times before any sense can be made of structure or intent." This is in fact encouraging, since it implies that there IS structure to be found in it by one who is willing to persevere.
Mr Lebrecht's FT (I think) preview of John Ogdon's 1987 performance of Opus Clavicembalisticum in London's QEH gave anyone unfortunate enough to read it a fairly accurate idea of how much its author knew about Sorabji's music; we don't in any case need his "guidance" in order to ascertain for ourselves what forms there are.

And a question - an obvious one really which I should have asked Mr. H. earlier - the name "Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji," what language is it? And what do the three words - presumably chosen by the composer himself - signify?

All I know is that a "Parsee" - which according to the Grove Dictionary is what Sorabji père was - is one of the descendants of those Persians who fled to India in the seventh and eighth centuries to escape Muslim persecution, and who still retain their religion (Zoroastrianism); in other words a "Guebre."
Although answers to some of this have already been provided, here are some more pointers:

The Sorabji Resource site, launched only recently, gives a detailed history of Sorabji's name metamorphoses as traced through early correspondence:
http://www.mus.ulaval.ca/roberge/srs/01-forms.htm

Until its founder and webmaster Prof. Marc-André Roberge's forthcoming biographical study is published (hopefully very soon), the best source volume for information about Sorabji is
Sorabji: A Critical Celebration, ed. Prof. Paul Rapoport (Scolar Press [now Ashgate Publishing], Aldershot, UK; 1992, repr. 1994); some information on Sorabji's name, background and religious beliefs is given on its pp.68-70 and the book remains available today.

The best résumé of Sorabji's names and their significance is, however, to be found towards the beginning of Ronald Stevenson's essay A Zoroastrian Musician in Dorset (1961, rev. 1988), which is reprinted near the front of the booklet accompanying John Ogdon's historic recording of Opus Clavicembalisticum (Altarus, AIR-CD-9075); the composer did not "choose" his surname which was, of course, his father's, his middle name (which was indeed "chosen" at some point, although we cannot yet be certain as to who did so or when) was his father's forename and either he or someone certainly chose for him the first forename Cyrus, the Anglicised version of Kaikhosru, before he adopted "Kaikhosru" itself.

The existence of the above resources, incidentally, is surely far less suggestive of a "prematurely forgotten composer" than of one who was arguably not "remembered" soon enough?...

Sorabji was indeed born into the Zoroastrian faith on his father's side; his mother, always known not to be a Zoroastrian, has recently been discovered to have been English. The composer was not a practising Zoroastrian, however and, although some of his correspondence and other writings indicate a relatively early interest in Buddhism and a later one in Roman Catholicism (he published, for example, quite a number of "letters-to-the-editor" in the British publication Catholic Herald), it is probably fair to say that he never subscribed to a single faith as we understand them.

I hope that this helps!


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 15, 2011, 10:45:08 am
The existence of the above resources, incidentally, is surely far less suggestive of a "prematurely forgotten composer" than of one who was arguably not "remembered" soon enough?...

Dare we suggest that the main person suggesting that suggestivity is... yourself?   :D


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 15, 2011, 11:33:26 am
The existence of the above resources, incidentally, is surely far less suggestive of a "prematurely forgotten composer" than of one who was arguably not "remembered" soon enough?...
Dare we suggest that the main person suggesting that suggestivity is... yourself?   :D
At the risk of appearing rude (which I hasted to add is not my intention) by answering a question with more than one more such,
(a) who are "we"?
(b) who was it that referred to Sorabji as a "prematurely forgotten composer" here in the first place? (i.e. not I)
(c) how would you define the act of "suggesting a suggestivity"?
(d) how would the above serve as an illuatration of (c)?
(e) why might I be expected to have any interest in whether or not the as yet unidentified "we" would do anything about this and
(f) on what grounds might it constitute any kind of "dare"?

That's right; you now wish that you (or was it "we"?) hadn't asked! I can't say that I blame you, really, but if "we" will ask such questions...


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on November 15, 2011, 02:18:19 pm
Thanks to the respective Members for those two interesting and detailed responses (replies 12 and 13). Has any one had the idea of making a collection or compendium of all those lively letters to the newspapers about which we so often read? And another question might be about the history of the family - was the father the first to come to England, and if so why did he come? Perhaps the favourite factotum of a military man . . .

I will be taking John Waterhouse's little volume "Zoroastrianism" to bed with me this evening.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 15, 2011, 03:11:22 pm
Thanks to the respective Members for those two interesting and detailed responses (replies 12 and 13). Has any one had the idea of making a collection or compendium of all those lively letters to the newspapers about which we so often read? And another question might be about the history of the family - was the father the first to come to England, and if so why did he come? Perhaps the favourite factotum of a military man . . .
All of Sorabji's known "letters-to-the editor" have been available for some years from The Sorabji Archive as part of the two-volume Collected Published Writings which comprises photocopies of them; I'm sure that a few will still have escaped the net of discovery, but I'm pretty confident that almost all of this material is present therein (details on www.sorabji-archive.co.uk and enquiries via sorabji-archive@lineone.net).

Sorabji's father came to England in the 1880s to pursue his studies and his engineering career; the composer's mother was already in England and was born in that country - more of that will be revealed in Prof. Roberge's study of the composer when it's published.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 15, 2011, 03:46:20 pm
Is it known how, and from whom, Sorabji acquired his evidently staggering technical mastery of the keyboard?  Wikipedia is frustratingly silent on this point.  He must, surely, have taken extensive formal lessons?

And may one enquire about the songs for soprano voice - are they a cycle, or an album set, or a looser collection...  and what texts are set in them?  I ask this question on behalf of an interested party, and not for myself.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 15, 2011, 04:51:25 pm
Is it known how, and from whom, Sorabji acquired his evidently staggering technical mastery of the keyboard?  Wikipedia is frustratingly silent on this point.  He must, surely, have taken extensive formal lessons?
Little is yet known about Sorabji's early life, not least his piano studies, other than that they appear to have been pursued privately rather than at a conservatoire as such; I can therefore only guess here, but it seems likely that much of his keyboard facility developed from strenuous bouts of working through the more big-boned works in the repertoire - Liszt, Alkan, Rachmaninoff, Godowsky, Busoni et al. He also used to practice from time to time on a Virgil Clavier (silent keyboard) and, when he did, he often gradually turned the pressure up to its full capacity, with a view to finding playing the actual piano afterwards a good deal less physically strenuous. I am also unable to comment helpfully on Sorabji's pianistic prowess when he was at what one may reasonably assume to have been the height of his powers as a player, which was during the years when he gave occasional performances, i.e. between the two world wars, as I am not 120+ years of age and there were no recordings made of his playing in those days; once he ceased to perform, however, it is fairly certain that he rarely practised any longer, concentrating as he did for many years largely on composition. He was in any case a somewhat reluctant performer.

And may one enquire about the songs for soprano voice - are they a cycle, or an album set, or a looser collection...  and what texts are set in them?  I ask this question on behalf of an interested party, and not for myself.
You may enquire about anything that you like! All of these are listed in the catalogue on the website (www.sorabji-archive.co.uk), including text sources and all but one have been recorded by the American team of Elizabeth Farnum and Margaret Kampmeier on the US Centaur label (details again are on the website); they comprise three cycles of three each and a number of individual ones, almost all to French texts. Charles Hopkins (1952-2007) translated all of these texts into English (although, of course, the songs are sung in the original French). Further details are to be found in Sorabji: A Critical Celebration to which I referred earlier. Sorabji played the piano in three of them in Paris in 1921 for soprano Marthe Martine; thereafter, there appear to have been no performances of any of them until 1979, when these and others were performed by Jane Manning and Yonty Solomon. Numerous sopranos across Europe and in US have performed them since those days; next to Elizabeth Farnum, the singer who has performed the most of them is the English soprano Sarah Leonard.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 15, 2011, 07:18:17 pm
Thank you for the detailed and helpful reply to both questions  :)


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on November 15, 2011, 10:54:23 pm
Thank you for the detailed and helpful reply to both questions  :)
You're more than welcome; if you need to know more, please do not hesitate to ask. My email address (as shown on the Sorabji website) is sorabji-archive@lineone.net if you wish to write directly.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on November 17, 2011, 04:34:31 am
Actually I have always thought "Dudley" rather a nice name - but I suppose that at least is matter of individual preference. As a youth I had an "Uncle Dudley" who successfully supported his family though speculation on the stock "exchange." It is only in retrospect that I speculate, as must not we all!

But let us return to the music, and to a further question: how well did Sorabji know Brahms's piano-forte works - written after all only two or three short decades prior to his own but entirely different it would seem in purpose. Did he admire Brahms? Did he learn from him, even - as surely all persons of serious intent must? What precisely then (if anything) did he take from Brahms?

[Sorry I am yet to return to the question of the Chromatic Fantasy - it may yet be weeks, but it WILL happen, and it must be thoroughly done.]


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: Neil McGowan on November 17, 2011, 08:40:59 am
I hope Mr Hinton will return to elucidate further.  His contributions on musical topics are very welcome and informative.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: davetubaking on December 27, 2011, 09:49:38 am
In quicker time than it takes to play Sorabji's entire oeuvre I've rustled up a virtual performance of the third movement of the Toccata Seconda (http://www.davetubaking.com/resources/Toccata+No+02+$28Sorabji$29+-+03+Scherzo.mp3). A mere 6'45" with lots going on for those of you who like lots going on in your Sorabji. A fantasy cum cadenza type movement - with a subtle ending.

If you felt inclined to catch up on the first two movements you can pop back to the top of this thread.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: t-p on December 27, 2011, 04:11:40 pm
Thank you davetubaking!!! IT is really like cadenza. I listened to few works by Sorabji that are available on youtube. There is influence of Tango Liszt and it all sounds very difficult. I think it is pasticio of many different styles. Thank you for posting Toccata here.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on January 14, 2012, 05:53:39 am
While desultorily browsing among the impure matter of another forum I happened upon this hidden gem - a work of true scholarship which extends the sum of human knowledge in several ways. Its author is one Sequentia, obviously a most erudite being; and I take the liberty of reproducing it here in order that the invaluable information it contains might be more widely disseminated and preserved.

<Start of quotation:>

Not all of Sorabji's pieces are extremely (120+ minutes) long. A complete list of his works (I hope I'm not forgetting anything) looks like this (please note that it is comprised of a combination of estimates and performances):

540:00 – Symphonic Variations for Piano
510:00 – Organ Symphony No. 2
430:00 – Sequentia cyclica
423:05 – Études transcendantes (100)
400:00 – Organ Symphony No. 3
360:00 – Piano Sonata No. 5 (Opus archimagicum)
320:00 – Piano Symphony No. 0 [sic]
320:00 – Messa grande sinfonica
278:24 – Jāmī Symphony
274:00 – Piano Symphony No. 4
270:00 – Piano Symphony No. 1
270:00 – Piano Symphony No. 2
252:11 – Opus clavicembalisticum
240:00 – Piano Quintet No. 2
240:00 – Piano Symphony No. 6
220:00 – Variazioni e fuga triplice sopra “Dies irae”
200:00 – Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra
160:00 – Opusculum clavisymphonicum
150:00 – Piano Toccata No. 4
139:26 – Piano Sonata No. 4
135:00 – Piano Symphony No. 3
130:00 – Piano Toccata No. 2
124:17 – Piano Symphony No. 5 (Symphonia brevis)
120:00 – Symphonic Nocturne
117:34 – Organ Symphony No. 1
100:00 – Symphony No. 1
100:00 – Piano Concerto No. 8
100:00 – Opus clavisymphonicum
87:00 – Piano Sonata No. 3
86:00 – Il gallo d’oro
74:55 – Piano Toccata No. 1
66:33 – Concerto da suonare da me solo
65:00 – Frammenti aforistici (Sutras) (104)
63:57 – Fantasia ispanica
55:00 – Opus secretum
54:26 – Villa Tasca
52:13 – Piano Sonata No. 2
45:00 – Passacaglia (unfinished)
36:46 – Rosario d’arabeschi
35:00 – Piano Concerto No. 6
35:00 – Piano Concerto No. 1
33:33 – “Gulistān” — Nocturne for Piano
31:36 – Un nido di scatole
29:00 – Piano Concerto No. 5
26:20 – Piano Quintet No. 1
25:00 – Piano Concerto No. 7
25:00 – Piano Concerto No. 2
25:00 – Piano Concerto No. 3
25:00 – Piano Concerto No. 4
24:38 – Piano Sonata No. 0
23:24 – Nocturne, “Jāmī”
22:56 – Le jardin parfumé
22:06 – Piano Sonata No. 1
21:54 – Passeggiata veneziana sopra la Barcarola di Offenbach
21:00 – Concertino non grosso
20:38 – St. Bertrand de Comminges: “He was Laughing in the Tower”
18:39 – Quaere reliqua hujus materiei inter secretiora
18:00 – Rapsodie espagnole de Maurice Ravel: transcription de concert pour piano (first version)
17:58 – Rapsodie espagnole de Maurice Ravel: transcription de concert pour piano (second version)
17:43 – Il tessuto d’arabeschi
17:00 – Schluß-Szene aus “Salome” von Richard Strauss — Konzertmäßige Übertragung für Klavier zu zwei Händen
17:00 – Opusculum
16:32 – Fantaisie espagnole
15:27 – Passeggiata arlecchinesca sopra un frammento di Busoni
15:27 – Valse-fantaisie
14:55 – Transcription in the Light of Harpsichord Technique for the Modern Piano of the Chromatic Fantasia of J. S. Bach, Followed by a Fugue
14:50 – Trois poèmes du “Gulistān” de Saʿdī
14:10 – Prelude, Interlude, and Fugue
13:15 – Cinque sonetti di Michelagniolo Buonarroti
11:30 – Movement for Voice and Piano
10:19 – Frammenti aforistici (20)
9:34 – Two Piano Pieces
9:20 – Chaleur
8:01 – Toccatinetta sopra C.G.F.
7:43 – Trois fêtes galantes de Verlaine
7:05 – Trois poèmes
6:49 – Trois poèmes pour chant et piano
6:35 – Music to “The Rider by Night”
6:10 – L’irrémédiable
5:43 – Pastiche on the Habanera from “Carmen” by Bizet
4:59 – Quasi habanera
4:59 – Hymne à Aphrodite
4:41 – Pastiche on the “Minute Waltz” by Chopin
4:12 – Pasticcio capriccioso sopra l’op. 64 no 1 del Chopin
4:08 – Pastiche on the Hindu Merchant’s Song from “Sadko” by Rimsky-Korsakov
3:05 – Passeggiata variata sul nome del amico Clive Spencer-Bentley
3:05 – The Poplars
3:01 – Roses du soir
3:01 – Fantasiettina sul nome illustre dell’egregio poeta Christopher Grieve
3:01 – Chrysilla
2:44 – Fragment Written for Harold Rutland
2:40 – Apparition
2:37 – L’étang
2:30 – I Was Not Sorrowful — Poem for Voice and Piano [Spleen]
2:21 – Vocalise pour soprano fioriturata
2:13 – L’heure exquise
2:00 – Fragment: Prelude and Fugue on FxAxx DAxEx
1:55 – Suggested Bell-Chorale for St. Luke’s Carillon
1:48 – Fantasiettina atematica
1:40 – Transcription of the Prelude in E-flat by Bach
1:37 – Arabesque
1:20 – Frammenti aforistici (4)
1:15 – Due sutras sul nome dell’amico Alexis
1:00 – Benedizione di San Francesco d’Assisi
0:52 – Variazione maliziosa e perversa sopra “La morte d’Åse” da Grieg
0:44 – Frammento cantato
0:35 – Le mauvais jardinier
0:26 – Désir éperdu — Fragment

Some 140 hours, just in case you were planning to tot up the provided durations.

<End of quotation>

Thus "Sequentia."



Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on January 16, 2012, 10:31:23 am
The entry at two minutes thirty seconds reads:

"I Was Not Sorrowful — Poem for Voice and Piano [Spleen]"

It might be pointed out a) that "spleen" is another word for what is sometimes called the "English vapours," and b) the poet in this case was the admirable Ernest Dowson.

His "Poetical Works" (1900) include in fact two poems bearing the title "Spleen" - one is inscribed "After Paul Verlaine" and is a kind of translation, and the other - evidently the one set by Sorabjit here - is an original work. Here it is in full:


                       SPLEEN

    I was not sorrowful, I could not weep,
    And all my memories were put to sleep.

    I watched the river grow more white and strange,
    All day till evening I watched it change.

    All day till evening I watched the rain
    Beat wearily upon the window pane.

    I was not sorrowful, but only tired
    Of everything that ever I desired.

    Her lips, her eyes, all day became to me
    The shadow of a shadow utterly.

    All day mine hunger for her heart became
    Oblivion, until the evening came,

    And left me sorrowful, inclined to weep,
    With all my memories that could not sleep.


Altogether a number of composers, both British and Continental, have set poems entitled "Spleen," penned by a number of poets.



Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: ahinton on January 16, 2012, 11:19:43 am
The entry at two minutes thirty seconds reads:

"I Was Not Sorrowful — Poem for Voice and Piano [Spleen]"

It might be pointed out a) that "spleen" is another word for what is sometimes called the "English vapours," and b) the poet in this case was the admirable Ernest Dowson.

His "Poetical Works" (1900) include in fact two poems bearing the title "Spleen" - one is inscribed "After Paul Verlaine" and is a kind of translation, and the other - evidently the one set by Sorabjit here - is an original work. Here it is in full:


                       SPLEEN

    I was not sorrowful, I could not weep,
    And all my memories were put to sleep.

    I watched the river grow more white and strange,
    All day till evening I watched it change.

    All day till evening I watched the rain
    Beat wearily upon the window pane.

    I was not sorrowful, but only tired
    Of everything that ever I desired.

    Her lips, her eyes, all day became to me
    The shadow of a shadow utterly.

    All day mine hunger for her heart became
    Oblivion, until the evening came,

    And left me sorrowful, inclined to weep,
    With all my memories that could not sleep.


Altogether a number of composers, both British and Continental, have set poems entitled "Spleen," penned by a number of poets.
This is one of only two songs for voice and piano by Sorabji in which he sets texts in English (all the others being in French). I've yet to encounter another setting of this Dowson poem, though - have you? I've never set a poem entitled Spleen but did include a Dowson setting (A Last Word) in my Six Songs, Op. 40 back in 2000.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: guest54 on January 16, 2012, 01:40:39 pm
I see only a setting by John Ireland of Dowson's other Spleen, the Verlaine translation: http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=19931 (http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=19931)

As originally published it has gaps every two lines:

  AFTER PAUL VERLAINE - III: SPLEEN

    Around were all the roses red
    The ivy all around was black.

    Dear, so thou only move thine head,
    Shall all mine old despairs awake!

    Too blue, too tender was the sky,
    The air too soft, too green the sea.

    Always I fear, I know not why,
    Some lamentable flight from thee.

    I am so tired of holly-sprays
    And weary of the bright box-tree,

    Of all the endless country ways;
    Of everything alas! save thee.




Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: autoharp on January 19, 2012, 10:54:24 am
The Verlaine poem exists in a setting by Bernard van Dieren.


Title: Re: Virtual performance of Sorabji
Post by: t-p on May 30, 2012, 03:33:04 pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=t2llNEt2hjo