Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano
About this work:
The first movement, Adagio – allegro con uno trotto – adagio begins and ends in a somewhat Romantic style, but with a twist: the end of the movement sounds like a record scratch, as if what you just heard is a track from an old vinyl LP. I became fascinated with the sound of record scratches when I noticed them in many commercials, although this is somewhat ironic since no one really plays records anymore.
The imaginary title of the second movement, Schizando (derived from ‘schizophrenia’) is a word I came up with to describe a musical style centered on fast, abrupt changes. This movement also reveals an obsession with sequences: sequence-like chord patterns decay by gradually becoming more dissonant as they evolve. These sequential sections alternate with “siesta daydream” sections, akin to channel surfing with a remote control. I was recently on the road for two months with my wife Victoria while she was touring, so on a personal level, traveling on the road to a different hotel every week probably influenced how I wrote this movement. We were never in the same place for very long and many of the hotels looked the same. Our lives were not that dramatic. I started craving drama, particularly in the music I listened to, and this probably spilled over into how I wrote this movement.
The third movement, Largo is slow and broad and inspired by the phrase “the weight of the past.” There are time markers that delineate certain sections, reminiscent of the ticking of a clock. There are a number of composers whose works influenced me in this movement, such as the later works of Arvo Pärt and the slow movements of some of Beethoven’s sonatas. I was also pre-occupied with wanting to write a movement that contained mostly “open” notes, i.e. half notes, whole notes and double whole notes.
My main influences for the last movement, Allegro con moto are the early formal ideas of Igor Stravinsky, folk-style fiddle playing and jazz. There are a few false starts when piano chords come crashing down and a few somewhat humorous sections. Many of the themes from the previous three movements reappear in this movement.
As with many of my earlier works, my goal was to create a four-movement work in which all of the movements are quite different from each other. In a sense, I view this multi-stylistic approach as the result of wanting to embrace a variety of tools. As a result, as I wrote this I did not have an allegiance to any one particular style, as each one hopefully elicits a certain, distinctive emotional response.
Year composed: 2003
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Keyboard plus One Instrument
Instrumentation: 1 Piano, 1 Violin