Gulistan and Rosario d'Arabeschi

Jonathan Powell (piano)

Altarus Records: AIR-CD-9083 (2005)

Web page for Altarus Records

Cd cover image Gulistan and Rosario d'Arabeschi

Duration: 72:18

Track listing

  • Track 1-3: Rosario d’Arabeschi (36:44)
  • Track 1: (6:46)
  • Track 2: (22:51)
  • Track 3: (7:07)
  • Track 4: Gulistān (35:34)


  • “Rosario d’arabeschi was written as a tribute and gift for Sorabji’s long-time friend, the remarkable (and remarkably prolific) English writer Sacheverell Sitwell. Taking his cue from Sitwell’s enthusiasm for every aspect of human civilisation, and their shared delight in the art and life of the Mediterranean, Sorabji crammed this 36-minute work with a kaleidoscopic array of all the things he did best — and by so doing, eerily mimics Sitwell’s peculiar talent for bringing disparate diversions around a theme together and melding them into a cohesive argument. So we have the familiar, freely fantastic bravura virtuosity in two outer sections, enclosing a passacaglia on two themes, one derived from a musical acronym of Sitwell’s first name (S-A-C-H-E-E), employed simultaneously; a mysterious and ornate shadowy slow movement over a pedal point, and a dizzying tarantella, sun-drenched and irrepressible, first cousin to the All’Italiana movement of Busoni’s Piano Concerto. Gulistan, by contrast, stays obsessively with one of Sorabji’s most idiosyncratic modes of expression throughout; the ‘tropical nocturne’, of which this work, after the great Sufi poet Sa’di, represents perhaps Sorabji’s finest essay in the genre, conjuring an atmosphere of oppressive, poisonous exoticism in musical terms of unparalleled complexity (even for him!) and breathtaking, if unnervingly sinister, beauty.” (Records International)