Written for Russell Sherman
World Premiere: New England Conservatory, March 28, 1993
The work’s title reflects its twin pre-20th-century heritage: the more formal schemes of a traditional three-movement Sonata interspersed with the freer elements of the Fantasia. These formal characteristics are particularly apparent in the first movement (marked Maestoso), alternating between a frequently reiterated massive chordal main theme and precipitous, fleeting-fingered cascading figures: the vertical and the horizontal, as it were, in constant dramatic contrast. The main theme is related (by inversion) to the four-note acronym so popular with 19th-century composers: B – A – C – H. A sudden light-hearted surprise ending provides the link to the gentle dreamy lyric second movement (marked Lento).
This tranquil mood is abruptly shattered in the stormily agitated (stürmisch bewegt) opening of the third movement, which in turn is resolved into a ‘waltz tune,’ embellished with long chains of trills. Brief reminiscences of the first and second movements occur, before the work finishes with a ‘sudden death’ ending.