Piano Sonata No. 4

Jonathan Powell (piano)

Altarus Records: AIR-CD-9069 (3CDs) (2004)

Web page for Altarus Records

Cd cover image Piano Sonata No. 4

Duration: 137:24

Track listing

  • Track 1-5: Piano Sonata No. 4 (137:24)
  • Track 1: I Vivo-arditamente (47:44)
  • Track 2: II Lento-languido e sonnolente Count Tasca’s Garden (35:46)
  • Track 3-5: III Preludio-Scherzo-Cadenza; Fuga I; Fuga II-Coda-Stretta (55:54)


  • “Even by the standards of the increasingly remarkable portrait of this unique composer that has been emerging in recent years, the Fourth Sonata is without question one of the most major works to have made it to performance and recording thus far. Predating Opus Clavicembalisticum by a year, this work follows on from the First Toccata in revealing fully, for the first time, the principal features of the composer’s mature style; the use of vastly extended Baroque forms, the free experimentation in building large-scale structures through the interplay of themes and thematic fragments, and the opulent and extravagantly ornamented ‘tropical nocturne’, a genre to which he returned repeatedly throughout his career. In the case of the 4th Sonata, this last gives rise to one of the most beautiful movements to have come to light in Sorabji’s output; the 36-minute “Count Tasca’s Garden”, which, like “Gulistan” from a decade later, epitomizes the composer’s use of luxuriant texture and ambiguous, shifting yet indescribably rich harmony, at its most extreme at this middle phase in his life. The last movement is also an intriguing structure, starting with a quicksilver toccata over a pedal, and then breaking out into a bizarre and diabolical scherzo, whose lightning changes of mood display Sorabji’s instrumental imagination to the fullest. There follows a very thoroughly worked double fugue, culminating in an apocalyptic coda in which juxtaposed harmonies built up layer upon layer like some vertiginous surrealistic mountain landscape push the resources of the piano beyond most composers’ limits with full orchestral forces at their disposal; a stunning culmination to a mighty work.” (Records International)