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John McCabe

Publisher: Novello & Co

Sonata (Study No 12: Homage to Tippett) (2009)
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
12 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
John McCabe Sonata (Study No 12: Homage to Tippett) (2009)
The series of concert pieces (ranging from 5 to 16 minutes) that I have called Studies
started with the intention of exploring either pianistic or compositional topics, but has
since No 7, a homage to Dukas, also reflected my love of the music of various
composers. Tippett’s piano music, some of which I have played many times, has
always fascinated me for its examination of an enormous range of keyboard sonorities
and technique, and for its lyrical poetry and the energy and dynamism so typical of its
composer. In this study, I have combined my tribute to him (during which I refer to
two of his works) with an exploration of sonata form – for many years I resisted the
idea of writing a Piano Sonata (note the capital letters), thinking sonata form itself
was not for me, but I suddenly felt I could write a single-movement work, thinking of
the examples of Hoddinott, Scriabin and Tippett himself, which would impinge
closely on sonata form. Thus, the opening vigorous section recurs as a kind of
recapitulation to close the work, and between those two parts are a slow “movement”,
and then a lightly scored scherzo. The actual ending itself vanishes into the distance in
a little phrase which gets quicker and quieter until it is hardly heard.
© 2009 by John McCabe

  • Ensemble
    Joseph Tong, Waka Hasegawa, piano 4 hands
John McCabe's 'Study No 12' was given its world premiere by the pianist Ashley Wass. A tribute to Tipett, it's a rigourously worked-through sonata, coloured by impressionistic piano writing. It appeared
Hillary Finch, The Times,01/01/0001
Although stated as a homage to Michael Tippett, it di not attempt Tippett's style, but secured its own musical trajectory with initial material coming back towards the end. In Wass's eloquent hands it immediately hit home.,01/01/0001
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