Composed between 1940 and 1944, Kaikhosru Sorabji's set of 100 Transcendental Studies has a total duration of at least seven hours - by far the largest collection of concert études in the known repertoire. It is also among the most technically demanding music written for the piano, often moving in seven or eight or nine parts and at times notated on six-staff systems. Recording such a monumental work must obviously be a labour of love by a pianist of unusual capabilities - which Fredrik Ullén certainly is: well-known for his concert performances and recordings of some of the most challenging piano music in existence, he is also a professor of cognitive neuroscience, with a particular interest in the effects of musical training on the human brain. Ullén's traversal of Sorabji's studies, begun on two previous discs, has been called 'groundbreaking' in the German magazine Piano News, and 'nothing short of breathtaking' in International Record Review. On this instalment, the turn has come for Studies Nos.44-62, with durations ranging from less than two to more than fifteen minutes. In the booklet, Ullén gives his own comments to the individual pieces, for instance calling No.60 'a quite wild and entertaining toccata' and describing No.54 as 'an improvisatory piece that drifts around in unexpected directions in tonal space with a kind of unconcerned equanimity'. One of Ullén's favourites of all the Studies, No.59 Quasi fantasia 'starts in a morning light of shimmering impressionistic beauty and grows into passages of tremendous, extravagant pianistic intensity'. A kaleidoscopic offering, thus, and another opportunity to sample Ullén as he - to quote the reviewer in International Piano - 'expounds Sorabji's studies with utter textual clarity and his usual jaw-dropping virtuosity.'
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