Map of Sonata Form structure in Rich Text format
This piece was begun in October 1993 following a very inspiring visit to Cornwall. It soon developed from a simple piano sonatina into an extensive work in three, and then four, movements with flute, sharing many common themes with my symphonic poem Judgement Day, begun earlier that year. The style is unashamedly Romantic, with movements I and III in an extended classical Sonata Form; indeed, the first movement could almost be recursively considered a sonata in itself. The piece is mostly tonal, but some sections use freely chosen results of a kind of strict post-serialist (but not twelve-tone) technique that gives rise to a pseudo-tonality and inhabit a more contemporary sound world. Yet this is not dry, abstract intellectualism; passion and melody are key, and hopefully the strict rules are balanced by an overriding complete artistic freedom to choose which rules, where, purely based on the sonic results. Probability and numerology were also involved, and there is much use of symbolism which charts some startling coincidences which occurred during its composition. The mood is often contemplative, joyous, tragic, radiant, shimmering, mesmeric.
My obsessive attention to detail meant that it took years to write; I have since refined my economy of scale :-) It was 'completed' at Viola Parsons' house throughout 1998, shortly before moving into Michael's Folly, working on her grand piano as time allowed, and drafting out new ideas in any free moments. Each time I play this through, it reasserts itself as my favourite piece, but I still feel it is unfinished in places, not to mention very long, perhaps unperformably so. I do intend to revise some sections (the Coda especially) when I can transfer the score onto computer for easier editing of its 64 pages, as there are still some piano parts I can't play, even at 1/4 speed! Indeed, my piano playing (I describe myself as a 'slow pianist') has difficulty managing some sections - the first movement, for instance, has four independent lines in places, although with practice, it is not impossible. Due to its epic length of 37 minutes, it makes extreme demands of the players and audience. Hopefully the flute part is not too strenuous, as there are plenty of air gaps for piano solo. I hope to record it one day if I can find an intrepid flautist and some piano lessons...
[Scores and recordings will eventually be available]
© copyright Malcolm Smith 2002-02-12 - last updated 2005-02-17