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Jonathan Powell - Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi & Gulistan

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Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi & Gulistan

Jonathan Powell

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English Pianist Jonathan Powell takes on two "short" Kaikhosru Sorabji pieces on his fifth outing for Altarus in piano works of the reclusive critic, mystic, and virtuoso, Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi/Gulistan. Timings are not provided in the package, but both the Rosario d'Arabeschi and Gulistan run in excess of 30 minutes' time; Gulistan was once even issued on Altarus by itself as a "single" of sorts, as played by pianist Charles Hopkins. Both pieces, composed in 1956 and 1940, respectively, are vaguely exotic in style and highly perfumed in atmosphere, although they never give way to the longeurs of the salon; they are harmonically tough. Sorabji's multi-layered of polyrhythm and sense of negative space between individual lines of music result in a texture that never seems dense or aggressive, even as it is harmonically complex. Of these two works, Gulistan is more obvious in its association to a particular milieu, inspired by the writings of thirteenth century Sufi Sa'di Shirazi and redolent with an Arabic atmosphere minus the traditional scales associated with Arabic music; Sorabji works with exotic scales of his own invention. Rosario d'Arabeschi, despite the "arabesque" implication of the title, was inspired by his friendship with poet, music critic, and adventurer Sacheverell Sitwell. Sitwell returned the favor by titling a collection of verse after Sorabji's composition, which is, like Gulistan, sweet smelling and heady in its fragrance, yet its thematic progression only becomes apparent after several listens. For those who enjoy liner notes on hopelessly arcane and obscure yet significant trends in twentieth century art, and connections between creative persons of various disciplines, the ones in the booklet to Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi/Gulistan are terrific. These include several excerpts taken from letters exchanged between Sorabji and Sitwell over the period of 1919 to 1987, the year both men passed away, and are densely annotated with notes of their own. Sorabji is the perfect choice for solitary late-night reading and reflection -- the notes to Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi/Gulistan might well prove sufficient to provide the reading matter! Do not expect to take it all in at once -- these works only give up so much ground in the first few listens. That Powell, or anyone for that matter, can merely make it through music of such extreme difficulty is something extraordinary, and that he is able to capture the elusive spirit of Sorabji in his performance is yet more extraordinary still. Altarus' recording is rich, completely clear, and has just enough reverberation to take the edge off the sound -- it is just right.
© TiVo

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Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi & Gulistan

Jonathan Powell

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1
Rosario d'Arabeschi, KSS 79: I. Introito
00:06:46

Jonathan Powell, MainArtist - Kaikhorsu Sorabji, Composer

(C) 2019 Altarus Records (P) 2019 Altarus Records

2
Rosario d'Arabeschi, KSS 79: II. Ostinato doppio - punta d'organo - cadenza
00:22:51

Jonathan Powell, MainArtist - Kaikhorsu Sorabji, Composer

(C) 2019 Altarus Records (P) 2019 Altarus Records

3
Rosario d'Arabeschi, KSS 79: III. Tarantella - coda - ripresa
00:07:07

Jonathan Powell, MainArtist - Kaikhorsu Sorabji, Composer

(C) 2019 Altarus Records (P) 2019 Altarus Records

4
Gulistan, KSS 63
00:35:34

Jonathan Powell, MainArtist - Kaikhorsu Sorabji, Composer

(C) 2019 Altarus Records (P) 2019 Altarus Records

Albumbeschreibung

English Pianist Jonathan Powell takes on two "short" Kaikhosru Sorabji pieces on his fifth outing for Altarus in piano works of the reclusive critic, mystic, and virtuoso, Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi/Gulistan. Timings are not provided in the package, but both the Rosario d'Arabeschi and Gulistan run in excess of 30 minutes' time; Gulistan was once even issued on Altarus by itself as a "single" of sorts, as played by pianist Charles Hopkins. Both pieces, composed in 1956 and 1940, respectively, are vaguely exotic in style and highly perfumed in atmosphere, although they never give way to the longeurs of the salon; they are harmonically tough. Sorabji's multi-layered of polyrhythm and sense of negative space between individual lines of music result in a texture that never seems dense or aggressive, even as it is harmonically complex. Of these two works, Gulistan is more obvious in its association to a particular milieu, inspired by the writings of thirteenth century Sufi Sa'di Shirazi and redolent with an Arabic atmosphere minus the traditional scales associated with Arabic music; Sorabji works with exotic scales of his own invention. Rosario d'Arabeschi, despite the "arabesque" implication of the title, was inspired by his friendship with poet, music critic, and adventurer Sacheverell Sitwell. Sitwell returned the favor by titling a collection of verse after Sorabji's composition, which is, like Gulistan, sweet smelling and heady in its fragrance, yet its thematic progression only becomes apparent after several listens. For those who enjoy liner notes on hopelessly arcane and obscure yet significant trends in twentieth century art, and connections between creative persons of various disciplines, the ones in the booklet to Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi/Gulistan are terrific. These include several excerpts taken from letters exchanged between Sorabji and Sitwell over the period of 1919 to 1987, the year both men passed away, and are densely annotated with notes of their own. Sorabji is the perfect choice for solitary late-night reading and reflection -- the notes to Sorabji: Rosario d'Arabeschi/Gulistan might well prove sufficient to provide the reading matter! Do not expect to take it all in at once -- these works only give up so much ground in the first few listens. That Powell, or anyone for that matter, can merely make it through music of such extreme difficulty is something extraordinary, and that he is able to capture the elusive spirit of Sorabji in his performance is yet more extraordinary still. Altarus' recording is rich, completely clear, and has just enough reverberation to take the edge off the sound -- it is just right.
© TiVo

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