A lost Sorabji masterpiece?

The custodians of the legacy of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji have informed us of what might be an important discovery of a long-lost work by a most unusual composer.

 

Toccata terza/Symphony for piano and orchestra

After almost sixty years in which the location of the manuscript of Sorabji’s 1955 Toccata terza has remained unknown (and accordingly described in the catalogue as “lost”), it has at last resurfaced in a private collection, along with a previously undocumented copy in the composer’s hand of the solo piano part from his orchestral symphony completed in 1922. Master copies of each are now in preparation and these two items will then be added to the Sorabji Archive catalogue.

This is the most important Sorabji manuscript discovery in many a year.

Toccata terza is cast in ten movements and, at 91 pages, is somewhat shorter than its 1934 predecessor Toccata seconda; Spanish pianist Abel Sánchez-Aguilera, who has performed and recorded Toccata seconda (the recording is due for release early next year), has already undertaken to typeset it and prepare it for performance.

More information is available on www.sorabji-archive.co.uk

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  • The View from America says:

    Sorabji’s music may be uneven at times, but it is certainly inventive and never less than interesting. Looking forward to hearing these rediscoveries.

  • Y2K says:

    Wonderful news. Sorabji is not for everyone that’s for sure but I’ve been obsessed with him for over 20 years. I can’t wait for the premier recording.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Since ca. 1900, ‘unusual composers’ are no longer unusual.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    A composer strictly for initiates. The only notable pianist that I have heard of who used to play his work was Michael Ponti.

  • SoCal Peter says:

    By coincidence, I just finished listening to Opus Clavicembalisticum today (my second go-around in a decade). My impression is that about an hour of music in the four-hour work is extraordinarily fine. The rest strikes me as hopelessly overwritten — Ferruccio Messiaen on some cocktail of psychotropic drugs, so to speak.

    I’ll be interested to read reviews of the recording of Toccata seconda when it’s released; perhaps Sorabji’s hyperpolyphony will be more tractable when presented with a variety of timbres.

    • Hilary says:

      I’ve sat through it and glad I did. More successful as an entity than Stevenson’s vaguely comparable, but shorter DSCH Variations.
      The stumbling block are the fugues. They’re structurally necessary but they need to be heavily edited. They’re too neutral : bars stuffed with notes.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    An interesting composer, in the sense that a crowded train station is interesting to a people-watcher, but most certainly not the genius that some make him out to be.
    He wrote a few lovely and to some ears profound passages, but his works were stretched out to lengths beyond all reasonableness.
    Let’s face it: he badly needed to self-edit, which he never brought himself to do.
    “Toccata terza/Symphony for piano and orchestra…. is cast in ten movements”.
    Oh please, spare me. KSS makes Mahler look like Webern.
    But then again, he’s “the noted British iconoclast”, so I guess he gets a pass.

  • Hilary says:

    Another lost manuscript which I hope will be unearthed one day is Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s orchestration of a portion of
    Sorabji’s ‘Opus Clavicembilisticum’. I’d imagine this related to his friendship with fellow student John Ogden?

  • The first movement is already typeset and the edition of the whole is likely to be ready sometime next year. It is to be hoped that a recording will be made soon afterwards. The piece plays for around an hour and three quarters. Further information via sorabji.archive@gmail.com as well as from the website.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    Sorabji, and masterpiece are two words never to be mentioned together in the same breath.

  • The first movement is already typeset and the edition of the whole work is likely to be ready sometime next year. It is to be hoped that a recording will be made. The piece plays for around an hour and three quarters. Further information via sorabji.archive@gmail.com as well as from the website.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Victor Sangiorgio was a great player of Sorabji’s piano music

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