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Sorabji: Opus Clavicembalisticum


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Author Topic: Sorabji: Opus Clavicembalisticum  (Read 125 times)
ahinton
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« on: May 18, 2017, 10:58:53 am »

Last Saturday, 13 May, at Oxford's Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Jonathan Powell gave what was probably the finest performance that Sorabji's monumental Opus Clavicembalisticum has ever received. It was only its 17th performance since the composer's own world première in Glasgow in 1930.

After an unsettled and rather rushed brief opening Introito, the ensuing Preludio Corale occasionally exhibited similar issues but, once Jonathan launched into the first of the four fugues in the work, he was on top form and remained there throughout. There were some devastating moments of fulminating virtuosity alongside the most sensitively shaped phrasing in the fugues whose essential bel canto qualities he brought to the fore and without which they can risk sounding rather like rigorous intellectual exercises. The reticence and pervasive stillness of the mesmerising Adagio that comes around two-thirds of the way through the work was another high point. Jonathan held the audience's rapt attention throughout its near 4½ hours, a not inconsiderable feat in itself; the audience response and glowing comments after it testify to the great success of his achievement.

The page turner was also excellent!

Jonathan had given two performances of the work in the previous 8 days and has at least four more this year, in Karlsruhe, Glasgow, Brno and Tianjin. It is fair to say that the piece has never had so much exposure.
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autoharp
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2017, 03:46:19 pm »

I attended the Oxford performance also and mighty impressive it was too.
As before, Jonathan put a great deal of effort making the fugues sound persuasive, particularly successfully with regard to the last one. The opening was certainly fast, approaching Yonty Solomon tempo - I rather like that approach. Also memorable was the Fantasia - which had never particularly struck me before. Most memorable of all was the brief Quasi Tambura section in the Passacaglia which featured an unusual and most extraordinary piano sound.

Not only was the page turner excellent, but he stood for the whole performance!
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BrianA
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2017, 01:54:03 pm »

With great anticipation I continue to await Mr Powell's recording of Opus Clavicembalisticum...
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ahinton
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 03:33:43 pm »

With great anticipation I continue to await Mr Powell's recording of Opus Clavicembalisticum...
You are by no means alone in that! With at least four more performances of it scheduled for later this year, I imagine that he'll want to do it no sooner than next year. In the meantime, he has recorded Sorabji's Sequentia Cyclica super Dies Iræ in the same venue in which he played Opus Clavicembalisticum last week and that is due out later this year; at a mind-boggling 500 minutes, it;s almost twice the length of OC and will be released on 7 CDs...
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