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Kenneth Leighton

Publisher: Novello & Co

Sonata for Solo Cello (1967)
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
19 Minutes

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Programme Note
Kenneth Leighton Sonata for Solo Cello (1967)
Kenneth Leighton: Sonata for Solo Cello Op. 52

Lament and Pizzicato
Toccata and Cradle Song
Flourish, Chaconne and Coda

It seem quite natural that a composer with a lyrical turn of phrase should write for solo cello. Bloch and Kodaly serve as an example, while one of Leighton's earliest compositions Elegy (with piano accompaniment) for cello had been conceived in 1953. The present work was published in 1971 but had been given a broadcast performance in 1967 - the year of the Cello Concerto - by the dedicatee, Joan Dickson. The sonata is closely knit, with material transferred and developed throughout. The dominating feature is the alternating major/minor 3rd (which had been a feature of the closing passage of the 1953 Elegy). This appears melodically in the Lament while its inversion, subdued double-stopped 6ths bring out the sonority of the instrument towards the end. Rhythmically, it is in three sections with a central 6/8 molto ritmico surrounded by the elegiac sections in a slow 4/4 time. The second movement is brisk (Allegro molto veloce) with alternating major/minor 3rds lines. The tempo changes to a March before entering the third section marked 'with a slow swing.' This rocking melody shows the instrument in its highest register and is punctuated by soft pizzicato chords. There is a momentary return to the original Presto misterioso.

The third movement begins broadly in D and is marked Largo eroico. The major/minor 3rd emerges. A return to C tonality introduces a seven-bar Chaconne now in A. As this extends its varied course the broad minor 6ths of movement I reappear. The Coda is marked by strong contrasts of dynamics - soft pizzicato chords alternating with ff melodic gestures. The music dies on C tonality.

© Kenneth Leighton

Score sample

  • Soloist(s)
    Raphael Wallfisch (cello) & Raphael Terroni (piano)
    British Music Society:
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