Post by HT
For those interested, Ullen's next recording of 100 Sorabji etudes is available on MDT.
This arrived from the UK to my mailbox in Texas on Monday. I've listened a couple times through. The strongest piece by far IMO is the Étude en forme de valse, which opens the CD. Ullén, the neurosurgeon who moonlights as a pianists specializing in the unplayable, interprets these daunting works with characteristic intelligence and dexterity. The piece is almost tonal; it is like a grand waltz by Strauss or Scriabin but macabre, heard in a deep fever, or in a nightmare. It builds magnificently to an early climax, drops to a hushed and subdued second section, then rises again to an energetic finale. It is my favorite of all of Sorabji's works I have heard so far.
The longest Étude in the set, #69, is also of interest. The liner notes compare it to Ravel's Le Gibet, and the similarity is heard from bar 1 with the repeated soft peals of A resonating throughout the piece. However, it is much more varied and irregular, strangely satisfying.
Most of the other etudes are typical Sorabji -- highly atonal and dissonant, rhythmically uneven, technically merciless, and either violently frenetic or hazy and ethereal; interesting if you are in the mood. IMO this CD the best in the series so far.
Looking at the Sorabji Archive's estimated playing times, it would seem we have another 3 CDs to come in the series; I am awaiting them eagerly.