Sonata da chiesa
About this work:
Though written in the present for the present, Sonata da chiesa cheerfully acknowledges its debt to the achievements of the principal composers of the last three centuries. If only for its keen awareness of its music heritage, this could only have been written in the twentieth century.
Its title refers to a type of chamber work, common in the Baroque Era (1600-1750), consisting of four movements that alternated slow and fast tempi. Although dance-based rhythms were not usually associated with these pieces, they were occasionally allowed to influence one or more of their movements. The second movement of Sonata da chiesa might be thought of then as a scherzo with rhythms faintly resembling those of the Baroque gigue or jig.
The first movement is based on a single theme which provides characteristics that suggest the bases for two succeeding but not very different themes. What is striking about this movement, however, is the rhythmic freedom with which it must be played. For this reason and because of its intense expressivity, it might remind the experienced listener of the accompanied recitative of Italisn opera or the improvised cadenzas of the earliest solo concertos. Like most scherzi, the second movement is in ternary, that is, ABA, form with a light, rather playful section alternating with one that is more sustained and lyrical.
The third movement closely resembles the first but is based on a varied restatement and development of only one theme. In complete contrast the last movement is a vigorous, energetic working-out of a single two-part theme, the first part of which is a sharply attacked three-note motive, the second a series of rapid sixteenth-notes that lead to a restatement of the first motive.
Sonata da chiesa was completed in November, 1980 and dedicated to Alexander Kouguell, who gave its first performance at Queens College on October 19, 1982, recorded it for Capstone Records (CPS-8644), and has been its most dedicated interpreter.
Score and part available from Mira Music Associates. Contact: email@example.com
Review: "Allen Brings's chamber music [Capstone CD, "Music da camera by Allen Brings"] is an expression of late 20th Century romanticism—sincere, honest, and tough-minded. His music relies on traditional materials in traditional forms, but there is something about it—a knowingness perhaps—that makes the overall effect more than backward-looking. It may be the particular kind of consciousness of the past that made our own age, when composers can combine elements of several different eras. Does it work as art? Or nostalgia? I don't know yet, but honorable efforts like his (and his fine, understanding interpreters) make me believe the answer may yet be a positive one."
Stephen D. Hicken
American Record Guide
Version: solo cello
Year composed: 1980
Ensemble type: Solo instrument, non-keyboard:Cello
Instrumentation: 1 Cello