Kaikhosru Sorabji: 100 Transcendental Studies, Nos. 1-25

Kaikhosru Sorabji: 100 Transcendental Studies, Nos. 1-25

by Fredrik Ullén
     
 
Pianist Fredrik Ullén has taken on the largest single cycle of etudes in history by virtue of agreeing to record composer Kaikhosru Sorabji's mammoth "100 Transcendental Studies for piano," written between 1940 and 1944 but never before recorded. Fredrik Ullén Plays Kaikhosru Sorabji's 100 Transcendental Studies 1-25 is the first volume of these works for the

Overview

Pianist Fredrik Ullén has taken on the largest single cycle of etudes in history by virtue of agreeing to record composer Kaikhosru Sorabji's mammoth "100 Transcendental Studies for piano," written between 1940 and 1944 but never before recorded. Fredrik Ullén Plays Kaikhosru Sorabji's 100 Transcendental Studies 1-25 is the first volume of these works for the Swedish label BIS. Individual etudes are not necessarily out of hand; most are miniatures, the longest (No. 24) coming in at a little under six minutes and the shortest (No. 9) at just under a minute. They are not merely sketches combined under the general heading of "etude," and each piece genuinely addresses some aspect of transcendental keyboard technique. Stylistically, the pieces work forward from the example of Scriabin and Busoni, but are written at such a horrendous level of difficulty one wonders whom among his contemporaries Sorabji had in mind when writing this music. Would the Horowitzes, Giesekings, or Artur Rubinsteins have taken Sorabji's etudes on, or merely laughed him out of the room? In some cases it is hard to imagine the act of just reading the scores of some of these etudes, for example Number 10, so black, dense, and angular must they be. In terms of playability, it is only imaginable that a class of pianists for whom the "Sonata No. 2" of Pierre Boulez or Stockhausen's "Klavierstücke" is "old news" could be capable of taking on some of this stuff. Fredrik Ullén is just such a player. One inspiring aspect of his attention to this music is that Ullén still takes the time to find the emotional core to even some of the most oblique of these etudes, for examples Nos. 12 and 14. Even as Sorabji's polymorphously polymodal harmonies and polyrhythms unwind, there is a sense of thinking in terms of spectral, universal space that becomes apparent, and this is not just in the notes but also in how they are parsed out. Moreover, there are pieces in which the sense of forward direction is simply just not clear -- Ullén manages either to detect the thread or just let the sometimes seemingly broken music remain abrupt, as it is so. Sorabji's "Transcendental Etudes" are simply not written to anything that can be imagined as "average taste" and may well prove difficult for expert listeners. Nonetheless, there are pieces that are remarkably beautiful, such as No. 18, and many instances where Sorabji works out technical concepts that seem previously untried, such as in No. 14. For composers, these etudes will prove stimulating, and to expert listeners there will be a lot of heated debate about the relative value of these mind-bending pieces. We have Fredrik Ullén to thank for making them available and for doing a very good job of it -- certainly this was no easy task.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/25/2006
Label:
Bis
UPC:
7318590013731
catalogNumber:
1373
Rank:
150808

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 1. Mouvementé
  2. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 2. Vivace e leggiero
  3. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 3. (untitled)
  4. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 4. (Sciabinesco)
  5. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 5. Staccato e leggiero
  6. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 6. (untitled)
  7. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 7. Leggiero abbastanza
  8. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 8. (untitled)
  9. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 9. Staccato e leggiero
  10. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 10. Con brio ed impeto - Volante
  11. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 11. (Animato abbastanza)
  12. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 12. Leggiero quasi 'saltando'
  13. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 13. (untitled)
  14. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 14. Tranquillamente soave
  15. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 15. (untitled)
  16. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 16. (untitled)
  17. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 17. Molto accentato
  18. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 18. Liscio. Tranquillamente scorrevole
  19. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 19. Saltando e leggiero
  20. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 20. Con fantasia
  21. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 21. Con eleganza e disinvoltura
  22. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 22. Leggiero volante e presto assai
  23. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 23. Dolcemente scorrevole
  24. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 24. Con fantasia e grazia
  25. Trancendental Etudes (100) for piano: No. 25. Vivace e secco

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