Brilliant Classics

Sorabji: Toccata Terza

Sorabji: Toccata Terza
Composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji
Artist Abel Sánchez-Aguilera piano
Format 2 CD
Cat. number PCL10304
EAN code 5029365103046
Release April 2024

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About this release

The first recording of another monumental work for piano by the composer of Opus clavicembalisticum and Sequentia cyclica.

Kaikhosru Sorabji tended to discourage performances of his music, feeling that most musicians not only lacked the technical equipment and dedication to conquer his vast scores, but also that they would not satisfactorily grasp their spiritual content. Having lived much of his life in lofty isolation, Sorabji died in 1988, and only in the last two decades have advances in digital publishing enabled his many unperformed and intimidatingly large pieces to be transferred from manuscript, and then taken on by dedicated performers such as the British pianist Jonathan Powell, whose first recording of the eight-hour Sequentia Cyclica won widespread praise on its release by Piano Classics: Sorabji’s ‘most inclusive and revealing major statement’ according to Gramophone, ‘a wilful yet engrossing challenge that, in Powell, has met its match.’

Composed in the mid-1950s, the Toccata terza had been thought lost until the score turned up in 2019, and Abel Sánchez-Aguilera has produced his own critical edition in order to make this first recording: a monumental labour of love and skill. The Toccata is cast in ten sections, including a 50-minute Passacaglia – one of Sorabji’s favourite forms – and the kind of thorny counterpoint and mountainous climaxes which will be familiar to followers of his music.

There are four extant Toccatas: ‘They seem to look back to the examples of Bach and Busoni,’ as Sánchez-Aguilera remarks in his booklet introduction, ‘reinvented in Sorabji’s personal language and expanded to monumental proportions. Notwithstanding their complexity, several features make them particularly effective and accessible to the listener. They make use of familiar procedures – such as the variation and the fugue – and thus establishing clear links with tradition.’ No Sorabji collector will ignore this major new release of his music, and searchers for rarities in the hyper-virtuoso piano repertoire will discover a new treasure.

- Khaikosru Sorabji (1892-1988) is one of the most enigmatic and controversial 20-th century composers. Largely self-taught he chose his own way, never fitting into any school or movement, his style is highly idiosyncratic, inspired by late-romantics like Busoni and Szymanowski. Characteristic for his piano music are the enormous proportions and textural density of his works, some of them lasting several hours in performance, taxing the performer and audience to the utmost.
- Sorabji shared with several composers of the older generation (particularly Busoni and Reger) a deep admiration for the music of J.S. Bach and an interest in the revival of Baroque forms by adopting traditional compositional procedures such as the variation (passacaglia, chorale prelude) and the fugue. Both Busoni and Sorabji wrote their own Toccatas, innovative examples of multisectional works.
- This new recording present Sorabji’s Toccata Terza. It consists of ten movements representing Sorabji's favourite genres: forms of Baroque inspiration (chorale prelude, passacaglia, fugue), free fantasies and fast sections in perpetual motion style, and his idiosyncratic slow movements. It is therefore an admirable synthesis of Sorabji's style, distilled into a relatively compact format.
- Spanish pianist Abel Sánchez-Aguilera is one of Spain’s foremost interpreters of 20th century music. He won First prize in the 2015 Scriabin Competition in Salzburg. He has given performances of Scriabin's complete sonatas, the Spanish première of Sorabji’s Toccata seconda and the first performance of this work in the UK since its prèmiere in 1936. He has prepared critical editions of several of Sorabji's unpublished manuscripts (Piano Symphonies nos. 0, 1 and 3). His previous recording for Piano Classics of Sorabji’s Toccata Seconda (PCL 10255) received several 5-star reviews in the international press.


Track list

Disk 1

  1. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: I. Movimento vivo
  2. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: II. Adagio
  3. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: III. Passacaglia

Disk 2

  1. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: IV. Cadenza
  2. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: V. Quasi fugato
  3. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: VI. Corrente
  4. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: VII. Fantasia
  5. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: VIII. Interludio
  6. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: IX. Capriccio
  7. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji: Toccata terza: X. Epilogo – Coda Stretta