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Sorabji’s music is like the man himself: florid, uncompromising, unconcerned with its impact or anything besides its own specific course and the vast timescales involved in wringing every last drop out of its material. For all its volcanic eruptions and torrents of sound, the style is often meditative, beguiling the listener with delicate strokes and caressings of the keyboard.

The Symphonic Nocturne for Piano Alone (1977-8) is Sorabji’s longest single- movement composition, playing unbroken for 140 minutes (one of the few fermata allows nicely for the change of disc!) It dwarfs the more familiar, wonderfully iridescent nocturnes Djâmî (1928) and Gulistan (1940) and is – necessarily – far more varied in texture and expressive profile, and somewhat less Oriental in tone. It is larger even than the Symphony No 5 for piano (1973), memorably recorded by Donna Amato for Altarus (AIR-CD-9064), or Kevin Bowyer’s awe-inspiring account of the Organ Symphony No 1 (1924) on Continuum (CCD1001-2).

For all its apparently improvisatory nature, there are clear structural milestones in Symphonic Nocturne’s 113 pages, most obviously the sequence of dramatic repeated bass chords that resound throughout. Huisman, who plays with jaw-dropping virtuosity and attention to detail, notes in the booklet that Sorabji’s structure may derive from the Golden Section and mathematical proportions, and this certainly helps Huisman shape the enormous edifice convincingly. Piano Classics’ sound is beautifully focused, not too close, not too distant, the Yamaha CS III concert grand producing a lovely tone throughout.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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