Toccata Seconda

Written 1933/34 four years after OC and immeditaely before two enormous works the Sonata No 5 Opus Archimagicum and the Symphonic Variations. Although in nine movements a much more compact work than those three at probably around two hours.

Movement 1 - Preludio-toccata (.flac) (.mp3) - I have tried to create a musical performance although I have not tried to imitate exactly a live pianist (how could I I'm a tuba player). I have taken many liberties with tempo and dynamics as I think Sorabji would expect. I have also altered some rhythmic relationships particulary with the fastest written notes which often, if played at the tempo of the surrounding material, would sound ridiculously fast and inhuman. It runs for 9'49" and is a virtuosic fantasy which seems to centre around C and F#.

Movement 2 - Preludio-corale (.flac) (.mp3) - This is quite a movement. broken up into several sections. The Corale is first stated in moderate crotchets; then with a lilting triplet crotchet accompaniment; a short bridging passage in slow crotchets; then with flowing quavers; then another bridging passage in slow crotchets; then semiquavers leading to a lengthy conclusion which ratchets up the volume and tension to end with one of Sorabji's volcanic major chords splashed across the keyboard and then stabbed viciously with with both Bb and B major chords.  There are some very beautiful moments in this movement with Sorabji at his lyrical best. This movement plays for 15:50.

Movement 3 - Scherzo (.flac) (.mp3) - A Fantasy/Cadenza type movement running in at 6'45 in my performance. This movement really bought home how much a performer must interpret Sorabji's idealistic notation. There is of course no tempo marking and I felt the basic pulse at around 80mm. As well as musical interpretation many of the gestures, particularly rapid gestures had to be performed at half speed or slower to make musical sense. Of course I may have got it entirely wrong. Dynamics are almost entirely my own there's possibly half a dozen actual dynamic markings. I haven't tried to play it as a live pianist particularly as regards pedaling basically because I'm not a pianist and don't understand it. I've just tried to perform it as seemed musically satisfying to me.

Movement 4 - Aria (.flac) (.mp3) - I've made the piano sound softer and warmer for this movement and I've gone for a contrast between quiet and contemplative for the opening and closing and bold and impassioned for most of the central section. The aria melody is clearly delineated in the opening and closing being set against rocking chords and in the central section we're off on highly polyphonic journey with as many as seven distinct lines. I've taken huge liberties with tempos and dynamics. I've no doubt my use of arpeggiation and pedaling is very unpianistic but what sounds right to me. Again this is not an attempt to imitate a live pianist but to create a musically interesting alternative performance (although not alternative for now as there are no other performances to compare it to!). This movement plays for 9:06.

Movement 5 - Ostinato (.flac) (.mp3) The ostinato is stated alone (unnumbered) and then follows 49 further iterations (numbered 1-49) with a plethora of invention overlaid. The ostinato itself is a simple one lasting 20-25 seconds depending on tempo. In essence it is a descending scale from D3 to D2 suggesting Dorian mode but with an excursion to Ab in the middle in mainly crotchets and minims. The middle Ab is initially a semibreve but Sorabji changes his mind from iteration 19 when it is reduced to a minim for the remainder of the piece so the ostinato is 24 crotchets initially and then 22 thereafter including a crotchet rest at the end. Even then there are a couple of deviations. Iteration 22 is a crotchet short, C3 being 2 instead of 3 beats. Iterations 26 and 40 miss out the crotchet rest at the end. The ostinato always appears in the range D3 to D2 except in iterations 5-7, 21, 36 and 37 it is doubled at the octave above, in iterations 25-28, 30-35 and 38-46 it is doubled at the octave below and in the final 3 iterations it is in the lower octave only. The music accompanying the ostinato virtually never goes below the ostinato (except for a couple of minor excursions of little relevance) which makes for an unusual stretch of music for Sorabji. This movement runs for 19:07.

 

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© David Carter