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Colin Clarke
Fanfare, November 2015

The genius of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji needs to be shouted from the rooftops until the World and his dog catches on, so it is timely that this British Music Society issue has found its way to Naxos. Sorabji’s music is heady, intense, gritty, granitic, and much, much more. Habermann, who has links with the composer himself, gives miraculous performances. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Marc Medwin
Fanfare, November 2015

Michael Habermann’s were the first commercially available recordings made of these demanding compositions; his playing balances virtuosity and rigorous study, enabling him to approach the challenges Sorabji offers with the requisite emotional and historical awareness. Naxos has done all piano music enthusiasts a great service by placing them back into circulation and in an expertly annotated three-disc package. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Peter Burwasser
Fanfare, November 2015

The CD devoted to the nocturnes is my favorite, and worth the price of the whole set. This is the Sorabji that Hamelin calls “a magic carpet ride.” The essential language is the same as the assertive music, but everything is served up at a lower temperature. This is extraordinarily lush music, Gulistān (The Rose Garden) in particular being as beautiful as any new work I can recall hearing, although it was written in 1940. Habermann’s 1993 Washington, D.C. performance, heard here, was the world premiere. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, November 2015

This set is enthusiastically recommended… © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Colin Clarke
Fanfare, November 2015

Be warned: This is addictive music. Do not start a disc if you want to sample five minutes before you head out for a train. Sorabji’s sound-world draws you in like a vortex…and only the mechanism of your CD player when the disc comes to an end might let you go. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Alan Becker
American Record Guide, November 2015

This is an excellent survey to get your feet wet in Sorabji’s world. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Jed Distler, October 2015

…there are those ultra-phantasmagorical, surreal, notey as hell, and pianistically gorgeous transcriptions of Chopin’s Minute Waltz and the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen. Habermann also offers a loving and eerily accurate parody of Sorabji’s style in his original short work called “À la maniere de Sorabji Au clair de la lune”. Here the familiar French folk melody calmly stands its ground as polytonal tidal waves fight to the finish. Few other pianists have internalized and inhabited Sorabji’s aesthetic to the degree of Habermann’s standard-setting artistry. You may or may not enjoy each composition equally, yet you’ll never hear them played better. © 2015 Read complete review

Blair Sanderson, June 2015

Michael Habermann was among the first to play this music…and these recordings from 1979 to 1995 demonstrate the skill and dedication that were required to win over the composer. Certainly, Habermann’s long familiarity with these works counts toward a rare kind of authority, and his musicality and expressive playing go far in making Sorabji more approachable for listeners. © 2015 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2015

One of the most enigmatic of 20th century composers, the British-born Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji was either a genius of unusual tendencies, or a gifted eccentric. He was to spend much of his creative life writing piano music of such extreme difficulty that few would even contemplate offering a concert performance, and that lack of public exposure was furthered by his own ban on performances that lasted for thirty-eight years that occupied much of his mid-life. Yet in many ways that helped to create a fascination of the unknown, and was to capture the attention of a small group of virtuoso pianists, his Opus Clavicembalisticum listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest non-repetitive piano work ever composed. His lineage was part English, Spanish, Sicilian and Parsi—his father having been born in India—and that brought to his works many diverse influences, as you will find in the opening disc that covers the first thirty years of his life. Maybe his highly attractive Fantaisie Espagnole emerges as a tourist’s view of Iberia, and he then teases and amuses the listener with pastiches of works using Johann Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bizet and Chopin as his source of material. For the performer they demand amazing dexterity and virtuosity. At times, such as in the extended poems, Le jardin parfume and Gulistan (Rose Garden), which occupy much of the second disc,we seem to be in the world of Debussy seen through the eyes of Szymanowski, the elaborate decorative filigree surrounding sumptuous exotic sounds. Yet in that same disc I would point you to Djami, a nocturne of ghostly apparitions that opens up an unusual world that encapsulates much of the mystery he inherited from the Orient. Then to the final disc we have the first two sections of Opus Clavicembalisticum to give a taste of this powerful and monumental score. But if you are looking for a composer of impossibly difficult scores, then you will certainly enjoy the Prelude, Interlude and Fugue, its roots being in the Baroque era but now made into finger-knotting complexity. Though I have had a long fascination with Sorabji, I am not going to pretend these heavily perfumed, and at times oddball scores, will appeal to everyone, but I share the enthusiasm of his champion, the French-born pianist, Michael Habermann. Often written on three stave to encompass the composer’s demands, Habermann makes out a very potent case for our recognition of this very personal voice. All the recordings have appeared previously on various labels, and now appear in Naxos’s international domain through the recent link with the British Music Society. They date from 1979 to 1993, mostly from studio sessions, but also in concert performances that appear unedited. Certainly varied in quality, they still faithfully capture the inner-workings of the music’s complexity. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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