Sonata Ii

Duration: 10:00
Date of Composition: 1981
Recording by Scott Dunn on CRI: CRI CD 869
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PROGRAM NOTES: The Piano Sonata II takes its departure from the sonorous quality of the modern grand piano, and especially from the use of the damper pedal in producing large harmonic combinations.  The word “sonata” is used here for its original meaning as “a sounding,” rather than for its acquired reference to sonata form.  The formal plan is quite simple, moving from slow to fast, and from soft to loud.  The musical content is essentially one long line, at times accompanied by dense harmonic material, which lends to the musical continuity a relentless momentum from beginning to end.  Of interest, en route, are the cadenza-like passages of rapid pitches (digital) that fuse into a sonic expanse (analog), much like the dots of a newspaper photograph make up a solid image.  The final (and longest) cadenza was inspired by the extensive solo harpsichord part in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto.  This cadenza (again, similar to Bach’s example) leads directly to a virtuosic codetta.

The Piano Sonata II was composed during the winter of 1980-81 in Hartford, Connecticut, and is dedicated to the brilliant American pianist, my friend, the late Yvar Mikhashoff.

                                                                                                                                    -James Sellars