Sonata No. 3 for Piano (2000)
The third weekend of February 1951 a group of Columbia University graduate students in composition and their counterparts at Yale met at Sprague Hall for two days of concerts and symposia. On that Saturday Genevieve Chen premiered by Sonata No. 1. In 1973 Seymour Fink gave a piano recital at Sprague Hall where he premiered my “Momenti.” Now on December 13, 2003 my most recent work for piano is to be premiered at Sprague. Piano Sonata No. 3 was written over a period of several months and completed January 25, 2000.
The Sonata’s three movements have a unifying four-note motif (E-flat, E-natural, G-natural, and F-sharp). The contours and shapes that follow are explorations that come from this musical gesture. The harmonic language, the linear flow, the interplay of rhythms come from the first measure of this work. The first movement, “Fantasia,” is initially dominated by the opening phrase. Succeeding sections, however, move the emphasis to different areas, creating different levels of tension. This idea is now fully expressed in the second movement, which is a series of ten separate pieces. These pieces explore a range of expressions that culminate in a gentle resolution. The third movement variations are continuous. These variations are of differing lengths, attitudes, inflections, yet their forward propulsion keeps the work moving to its climactic moment.
The Sonata is a truly personal statement. It was not composed with a specific pianist in mind. I had the luxury for the first time since the early 60’s of composing a work without knowing what soloist, group or organization was to be its recipient. It is a work without walls, with boundaries of my own choosing, without outside constraints. As a result I feel closer to this piece than almost any I have written… and I know in a very singular way it’s about me.