Fredrik Ullén

Kaikhosru Sorabji: 100 Trancendental Studies, 63-71

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Since 2006, Fredrik Ullén has been recording the 100 Transcendental Studies of Kaikhosru Sorabji for BIS in installments, of which this is the fourth, covering Nos. 63-71. Because the whole collection would run to more than seven hours if played straight through, it's much easier to manage the recording project over several years; one imagines that any pianist would need time between recording sessions to clear his head of these dense, demanding, and often delirious etudes. To be sure, Sorabji's studies deal with specific pianistic issues, usually of the most difficult nature for virtuosos, but the listener is more likely to be impressed by the sheer brilliance of the fingerwork and the lush chromatic harmonies that give the music its exotic or even mystical flavor. Sorabji's music shares much in common with the dazzling keyboard works of Alexander Scriabin, though its challenges often outdistance the Russian master's most daunting efforts, and on the page, its many strands are often spread over multiple staves for the sake of clarity. Ullén has clearly mastered the technical aspects of these pieces, and his ability to communicate expressively through Sorabji's multilayered counterpoint makes these recordings worth hearing.

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