Sonata for Violin and Piano

Sonata for Violin and Piano

Sonata for Violin and Piano

Program Notes

  1. Elegy 1
  2. Scherzo
  3. Elegy 2
  4. Toccata

This sonata was composed during the summer of 2003 for Victoria Paterson, after I heard her give a recital of all 20th-century American music in New York City. Perhaps foolishly, she asked me if I would write something for her (perhaps it was the margaritas at the post-concert celebration). Naturally, I agreed. After looking around in vain for a good title, I did something I seldom do, and used the simple descriptive title of sonata.

Although not strictly in the accustomed four-movement form, it is not all that far from it, either, with two very serious slow movements contrasting with bravura fast movements. The sonata is conceived as a duo vehicle, with the two instruments of roughly equal importance, and with very few passages where only one instrument is playing.

The two elegies are the emotional core of the work. The first explores a variety of tremolo and double stop effects in the violin, and a few inside-the-piano sounds from the keyboard. The second elegy begins and ends with the piano playing a marcia funebre, while the violin declaims rhapsodically, and also reprises some of the tremolo effects from the first movement.

The fast movements are almost relentless in their energy, with only a few passages of relative repose. Both players are called upon to strut their virtuoso stuff. The toccata, after reaching its final and largest climax, has a brief solo violin passage (the closest thing to a cadenza in the work), before the piano joins in for the final fadeout, with the violin disappearing into its uppermost register, while the piano fades away into the lowest notes of the keyboard.

found on Marc Satterwhite’s CD, Spiky Epiphanies: Chamber Music of Marc SatterwhiteListen