Kaikhosru Sorabji

Fragment Written for Harold Rutland, for piano

    Description by Adrian Corleonis

    Sorabji devoted a chapter of his Mi Contra Fa: The Immoralisings of a Machiavellian Musician (London: Porcupine Press, 1947), "Il Gran Rifiuto," to animadversions upon his avoidance of concerts, his avoidance of musicians (because they are rarely persons of intelligence or culture), and "Reasons for Living in a Granite Tower... speaking purely for myself, I want no 'ivory tower,' but a Tower of Granite with plentiful supplies of boiling oil and molten lead handy to tip over the battlements on to the heads of unwanted and uninvited intruders on my privacy and seclusion." This notorious and oft-quoted passage, taken with Sorabji's ban on performances of his works, have spurred the legend of a proud, difficult, irascible iconoclast. But to those with a genuine interest in his music, and the mental agility to cope with it, Sorabji loomed as a very kind, approachable -- affectionate -- man, as friendships with Philip Heseltine, Norman Peterkin, Clinton Gray-Fisk, Alistair Hinton, Yonty Solomon, Donald Garvelmann, Kenneth Derus, and a number of others throughout his long life, attest. Harold Rutland (1900-1977), an English pianist, composer, factotum in the BBC's Music Division (1941-1956), and editor of the Musical Times (1957-1960), made Sorabji's acquaintance in the early 1920s and remained a lifelong friend. Sorabji reciprocated by dedicating to him not only the Fragment, which bears his name but another, Un Nido di scatole sopra il nome del grande e buon amico Harold Rutland (1954, a variation set on a theme derived by musical cypher from the letters of his name), and the towering Fourth Symphony for piano alone (1962-1964). The Fragment exists in three versions. The initial composition, on two pages, dates from 1926. In 1928, a second version spilled over four pages; while the third, 1937, recension -- which Sorabji noted as the "final definitive version" -- occupies, again, a compact two pages. Rutland premiered the first version at a London concert on October 12, 1927, while it was left to Michael Habermann to give the first public performance of the final version in Greenvale, NY, on April 15, 1978. The initial impulse to reward interest with a brief conspectus of his style was very likely felt to need updating as that style expanded in Concerto V for piano and large orchestra (1927-1928). By 1937, the "cataclysmic" grandeurs of the Opus Clavicembalisticum (1929-1930) -- playing between four and five hours -- could not be suggested in parvo, and Sorabji contents himself with a contrast of menacing and meditative in less than three minutes.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Naxos 857136365
    2009 BMS / Nimbus 427-429
    BMS 427429