Opus Archimagicum

"Piano Sonata V" (1934-35)

Lasting about eight hours, this is an extraordinary epic that takes the concept of a work for piano into another realm seldom experienced by listeners. It is a composition both cryptic and mysterious in nature and has the reputation of being among Sorabji’s most challenging works, surpassing the notorious “Opus Clavicembalisticum” in difficulty. OPUS ARCHIMAGICUM may be Sorabji's unheard masterpiece, for nowhere else in the composer's output can one find such a consistent and proportionate balance of form, contrast and variety within such a large-scale composition. The work's use of various mottos based on Bach, occultist Bernard Bromage, and the infamous Dies Irae plainchant (a theme that would interest Sorabji for decades and was prominently used in several of his works) help sew together a vast epic in three massive parts defined by a curiously unique and programmatic occult game plan: the Tarot and its Major and Minor Arcana, as well as the Grand High Sorcerer himself: the Arch-Mage. If there ever was a musical equivalent of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, this piano behemoth may come close. Housed in ten movements spanning three separate and clearly defined parts: PARS PRIMA: ARCANA MINORA, PARS ALTERA: ARCANA MAJORA, and PARS TERTIA ET ULTIMA: ARCHIMAGUS, the sonata's large-scale symmetrical designs accommodate homages to Prokofiev, Chopin, Ravel, Alkan, Godowsky, and Busoni while incorporating a mind-blowingly absurd virtuosity all Sorabji's own that predates the work of Art Tatum, Cecil Taylor, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Ultimately, only the listener can unlock the mysteries to this vast, volcanic, and strangely beautiful work with a mystical programmatic subtext.

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