Commissioned by Haddington Music Club. First performed by Gilliane Haddow (vla) and Peter Evans (pf).
Sonata for Viola and Piano (2001)
In 1995 I wrote with Janice Galloway an extended ‘scena’ for soprano based on the life of Clara Schumann, which was in turn inspired by Robert Schumann’s settings of the Chamisso cycle ‘Frauenliebe und –leben.
I have often wished to return to this material, and have now done so in this new viola sonata, which further develops themes from ‘Clara’, using recurring motifs across all four movements and exploring them in different ways.
It is in four movements; the first is rhapsodic in style and refers to the rhythmic piano theme that opens the Schumann cycle. The second is an elegy which plays on the resonances created between the two instruments in unisons and simple counterpoint. The third movement, a scherzo, is mercurial with a dance-like central section, a half-remembered waltz, as if heard in dream. The final movement brings back the main ‘Clara’ them, calming it into a reflective, almost static music which leads back eventually (as in the Schumann) to the rhythmic motif of the first movement.
The Sonata was commissioned by Haddington Music Club and first performed by Gillian Haddow and Peter Evans.