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Sorabji: Opus Clavicembalisticum Box set, Import

3.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Import, November 23, 1999
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Introito
  2. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Preludio - Corale (Nexus)
  3. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga I quatuor vocibus
  4. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fantasia
  5. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga II Duplex

Disc: 2

  1. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Interludium primum (Thema cum XLIX variationibus)
  2. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Cadenza I

Disc: 3

  1. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga tertia triplex: Dux primus
  2. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga tertia triplex: Dux alter
  3. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga tertia triplex: Dux tertius

Disc: 4

  1. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Interludium alterum: Toccata
  2. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Interludium alterum: Adagio
  3. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Interludium alterum: Passacaglia cum LXXXI variationibus
  4. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Cadenza II

Disc: 5

  1. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga IV quadraplex: Dux primus
  2. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga IV quadraplex: Dux alter
  3. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga IV quadraplex: Dux tertius
  4. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Fuga IV quadraplex: Dux quartus
  5. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Coda - Stretta
  6. Opus Clavicembalisticum, for piano: Applause


Product Details

  • Composer: K.S. Sorabji
  • Audio CD (November 23, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Bis
  • ASIN: B00002R15O
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,059 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Carpenter on June 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
First -- what I'm about to say in no way takes anything away from Madge's performance of this piece. Madge's performance is far, FAR better than John Ogden's; and Madge seems to have captured the real essence of this piece in a way Ogden never could have. This performance represents a tremendous accomplishment for Mr. Madge. If you're going to buy a performance of the Opus Clavicembalisticum, the Madge performance is the one you should buy.
About the music: I have a feeling I'm going to upset some die-hard Sorabji enthusiasts with my comments, but I'll call this like I see it.
To be honest: for the amount of thematic material presented, and the way Sorabji uses it, I think this piece is about ten movements too long. Opus Clavicembalisticum reminds me of compositions by pianistic "whiz kids" -- 17 and 18 year olds taking composition in their first year of college, who have the technique to play anything they want, and who don't hesitate to write the most daunting technical difficulties into their music -- but simply don't have the maturity to organize a large scale piece or to frame the musicality behind what it is they're writing! (I'm guilty of having done the same thing, too, when I attended the Indiana University School of Music 28 years ago.)
Sorabji certainly knows how to write "huge," but the material in this piece just doesn't warrant a four-hour composition. While listening to all the counterpoint, all the variations, all the extremes of register -- I found myself really aching to hear one good, cohesive slow movement! The lone "Adagio" wasn't REALLY an "Adagio.
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Format: Audio CD
This product is very lucky to have recieved two stars from me. It is, in a word, terrible. I do not believe there is any one word that can truly describe the atrocity that G.D. Madge has committed! A scandal! A travesty! It is because of performances like THIS that Sorabji banned performances of his works in the first place! This performance is so terrible, it is OBSCENE!

First of all, in so many places, Madge practically improvises. In the parts where there are large jumping chords, Madge merely pounds out random notes. He does not follow the music. This is what causes many to think that this piece is really bad... they think it is nothing but relentless "banging", but let me tell you, it is not! I have studied the score for this piece for a very long time now, and that is NOT what Sorabji really wrote! I could practically point out parts on every page where Madge completely fakes the performance, often not even trying to hit the right notes.

So, let us start with the very first movement. This truly sets up what will follow. Right when the music starts to get hard, he starts to make mistake after mistake. Aside from that, his playing is not clean. Later, he just starts hitting random notes, a skill that he definitely has mastered, I must say.

The second movement is no exception. Though there are moments when his playing is bearable, for the most part, it is no better than the first movement. The majority of Fuga I is faked. The Fantasia is actually all right for the most part, but he doesn't play cleanly, and at the end, he goes back to hitting random notes.

His entire Coda-Stretta is improvised. Any thing he plays that resembles the actual music even the slightest bit is merely a coincidence. And the end can make your ears bleed...
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Format: Audio CD
There is certainly a striking disparity among the reviews posted - praise from, for example, an admitted associate of Madge, and slanderous, disgraceful, utterly contemptible condemnation of Ogdon ("awash in anti-psychotic medication"? "not one brain cell working"? - the person who wrote this is a pig). I can only say that, having known the piece first from Madge's recording, and having recently acquired the Ogdon, there is no comparison. Ogdon makes music - and great, astonishing music - where Madge produces endless streams of uncharacterised, undifferentiated note-spinning. The fugues, in particular, are utterly mechanical and apparently devoid of any comprehension in Madge's reading. To be sure, he certainly deserves credit for tackling the work, but one wonders why he released this recording - and why he tolerates, if he does, the blatantly offensive, disgusting claquery of his supporters.
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Format: Audio CD
The Sorabji Opus Clavicembalum is beyond me in terms of review. Like other monumental works it seems to exist in it's own plane, above my own petty likes and dislikes, rather like the Bach Art of the Fugue or the work of Ravi Shankar. Suffice it to say that Sorabji's nearly 4 hour work is dense, fierce in it's extremes, crowded with detail, exacting in it's counterpoint and almost crazy in it's intensity. Written in a style that takes Busoni, Szymanowski and Scriabin as a starting point, Sorabji squeezes these influences through a distorting prism to create a torrent of sound unlike any other. I can't say whether I like it or not...and I'm not sure that it matters, anymore than it matters whether I like the Rocky Mountains or not.
What I can comment on definatively is the performance. Sorabji is the Holy Grail of 20th century pianism. No other composer, before or after is as complex, dense or as demanding. (Not even Michael Finnessey who comes close.) Merely to play this piece in public is an act of enormous courage...or enormous hubris. So I respect the attempt of anyone to try.
In the current instance, BIS chose to record Madge in a live recital in Chicago, playing the OC in one program. The undertaking is heroic, but there are major problems with the results. Particularly on the first disc, Madge seems to have trouble with the material. There are many obvious flubbed notes and poorly executed passages. Though these mistakes subside as the work continues, they are present throughout the performance. As a result, many passages lack the power that they should have to make them come across in performance. Even passages that are clean tend to sound tenative...as if we can hear Madge praying not to make another mistake.
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