Kaikhosru Sorabji: Legendary Works for Piano

Michael Habermann

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Kaikhosru Sorabji: Legendary Works for Piano Review

by James Leonard

Listeners who love the piano music of Alexander Scriabin owe it to themselves to try the piano music of Kaikhosru Sorabji. Both wrote exceedingly sensual, extremely dense, and unbelievably challenging piano music, but Sorabji's music is vastly more sensual, immensely denser, and enormously more challenging than Scriabin's. This three-disc set, featuring the preternaturally gifted Michael Habermann, includes Sorabji's Pastiche on Chopin's Waltz, Op. 64/1, which sounds like roughly two pianists at once; The Rose Garden, which sounds like approximately three pianists at once; and the ne plus ultra of Sorabji's art, the Introito and Preludio-Corale from his gargantuan Opus Clavicembalisticum, which sounds more or less like a half-dozen pianists playing at once. In every case, Sorabji writes more notes than the mind can immediately grasp, and only repeated hearings reveal the incredible complexities of his art. Pianist Michael Habermann does everything one could possibly ask of a performer, playing all of the notes and making the most compelling case for the music. The sound is lacking in focus and detail, making it harder than it ought to be to tell what's going on in the music.

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