Around Kaikhosru Sorabji (2003)

Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht

Kaikhosru Sorabji was a phenomenon. This English composer of extremely difficult piano music lived in seclusion, did not allow photographs to be taken, did not give interviews and avoided any contact with the public. Only on very special occasions did he – unwillingly, incidentally – occasionally perform a work of his own. Cupboards full of music were written by this eccentric of Parsi origin. Sorabji did not appreciate public performances of his compositions and if they did happen, ‘he would not cross the street for them’.
Between 1915 and 1984, Sorabji worked on an oeuvre comprising more than a hundred works. Most of them are for piano, some of them three to four hours in length and require a pianist who has everything. If a pianist plays a piece of such length poorly technically and at too slow a tempo, it becomes quite a sitting. It happened to Sorabji around 1930. Since then, he banned any performance of his music and stopped performing himself. He was of the opinion that his pieces were apparently not suitable for conventional stage practice. Three concerts have attempted to paint a broad picture of this bête noire. Sorabji’s compositions are surrounded by the few contemporaries he could at least appreciate.

1. Jonathan Powell, piano
1 February 2003

-Alexander Scriabin Sonata nr. 7 (1912)
-Kaikhosru Sorabji Passeggiata veneziana sopra la Barcarolla di Offenbach (1956) *
-Ferruccio Busoni All’Italia ! (1907); Berceuse (1909)
-Kaikhosru Sorabji from Transcedental Studies(1940/’44) nr. 4 Scriabinesco* nr. 84 Tango habanera**
-Kaikhosru Sorabji Gulistan (1940) *
-Leopold Godowsky: Symphonische Metamorphosen über Johann Strauss’; Die Fledermaus (1907) *

2. Quatuor Danel featuring Frank Peters, piano
22 February 2003

-Percy Grainger Three Folktunes *
1. Molly on the Shore (British Folk-Music Setting No. 1) (1907)
2. Beautiful Fresh Flower (1935) (arr. Peter Sculthorpe)
3. Died for Love (British Folk-Music Setting No. 10) (1907) (arr. Barry Peter Ould)
-Kaikhosru Sorabji Piano Quintet nr. 1 (1920) *
-Kaikhosru Sorabji Fantaisie espagnole (1919) *
-Frederick Delius String Quartet (1916)

3. Netherlands Radio Symfonie Orkest cond. by Ed Spanjaard
Donna Amato, piano
16 March 2003

-Ferruccio Busoni Tanz-Walzer für Orchester op. 53 (1920) (“Dem Andenken Johann Strauss”)
-Kaikhosru Sorabji Piano Concerto nr. 5 ** (1920)
-Ferruccio Busoni Berceuse élégiaque (1917)
-Percy Grainger The Warriors (1916) *

4. Reinier van Houdt, piano
16 March 2003 17.00 – 22.45 hours

-Kaikhosru Sorabji Symfonie no. 4 for piano alone (1962-1964)**

* Dutch premiere
** World premiere