KAIKHOSRU SHAPURJI SORABJI (1892-1988): Toccata Seconda.
Catalogue Number: 04V052
Label: Piano Classics
Reference: PCL 10205
Description: The Second Toccata (of four multi-movement works to which Sorabji gave this title), was composed in 1933-34, in the midst of one of the most fertile decades of Sorabji’s life which produced a number of major works of his early maturity as composer. The model for this Sorabjian genre was clearly Busoni's Toccata (Prelude, Fantasia, Chaconne), as that for Opus clavicembalisticum was the Fantasia contrappuntistica, and in both composers' cases their exploration and extension of Baroque forms derives from their veneration of Bach. Like the enormous Sequentia cyclica (02V012) the piece comprises multiple movements - nine in this case - that include a number of his favourite forms - chorale prelude, aria, 'tropical' nocturne, passacaglia, and a huge concluding fugue - though on a more modest scale of somewhat over two hours, similar to his Symphonia brevis (04M065), the shortest example of another highly characteristic multiple movement genre, with many movement types in common. The first movement is a fleet, rapid-running toccata-prelude which sweeps the listener into the action with exhilarating momentum. The following chorale prelude accumulates density and tension as it progresses, pauses and sets off again, inexorably rising to an apocalyptic climax. The waspish scherzo, in little irregular phrases and rhythmic groups, sounds like a translation of the caustic humour of Sorabji’s writings into music, by contrast with the beautiful polyphonic Aria that follows. The Ostinato, 49 (of course!) variations over a 14-note ground, is characteristically cumulative, like all Sorabji’s variation movements, though here the centrally placed climax of this arch-shaped movement acts as the fulcrum of the work as a whole. The viny entanglements of an extravagantly decorated tropical nocturne follow - this one reaching an unusually minatory climax - then two short movements that act as contrasting preludes to the final fugue, a scampering echo of the opening toccata and a monumental pedal-point portal to the last movement. This is a huge fugue, on one of Sorabji's longest fugue subjects, thoroughly and meticulously worked out in ample episodes on the subject and the four countersubjects, crowned with a massive coda stretta. 2 CDs. Abel Sánchez-Aguilera (piano).