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Topic: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

  1. #1

    Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    I've been hesitating posting this here, simply because only the piano is from a Garritan library. The entire score is played directly from Finale 2010. No further tweaking, rerecording or sound editing.

    Anyway, it's four movements: Moderato, Scherzetto, Aria, and Rondo.

    It's VERY tonal and "traditional". I did it on purpose. Also some of the "influences" are a bit more obvious and spotlighted.

    For example, being a "sonatina" rather than a full-fledged sonata, I drew my inspiration from Ravel's wonderful sonatina for piano. The first movement is where this inspiration is most evident.

    1 - Moderato

    It's two themes, but very closely related. The opening section is repeated twice, then the brief development begins.

    The Scherzetto is an hommage to Paul Hindemith, both a great composer and a phenomenal violist (I mean, if you're going to be inspired to write a viola piece, it may as well be by one of the greats).

    A very simple form, traditional scherzo, just... shorter. And mildly more pungent harmony.

    2 - Scherzetto

    The third movement is the adagio. It's more "me" than the rest of the sonatina, just "me" in a more tonal mood. It's a very simple ternary form: A - B - A, the middle section is sort of a spacey floating section to contrast with the slightly more "dramatic" character of the "A" section.

    The piano introduces with dramatic chords, and the viola comes in with a very simple song-like theme. This theme is gently passed back and forth between viola and piano throughout the movement.

    3 - Aria

    And the finale is a traditional Rondo. Unlike most of my previous work, there is no cyclical treatment of the material. In other words, no reprises of material from earlier in the entire sonatina. Except at the extreme final cadence, there is a decending passage of chords in the piano which is the exact same harmony as the very opening of the first movement.

    4 - Rondo

    I hope you enjoy it.

    From a purely personal point of view, this sonatina was a difficult work to compose. It was a very conscious decision on my part to eschew any obvious modernisms and to fully embrace a tonal treatment of the harmony. The difficulty was "remaining true" to my own musical aesthetic while doing so. I was basically trying to "go back" and see just HOW tonal I could do something without feeling that I had somehow abandoned the 21st century.

    Maybe to some of your ears, this may not see "all that tonal". I'm curious to hear peoples' reactions.

    Hopefully, I will have a violist perform the entire sonatina later this spring.

  2. #2

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37


    Gorgeous Aria. I love it!!! Truth is I enjoyed it all but especially the Aria.

    This is a departure for you but I think you were successful maintaining your aesthetic. I can still hear your sense of form and even an occasional harmonic venture into polytonality in developmental sections.

    Very well done and I would also think this piece would be very appealing to perform as well.

    Steve Winkler

  3. #3

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    Well, I am enthralled. Nice Sonatina. A bit too tonal for me, but it works well and makes a wonderful offering for a beautiful and somewhat ignored instrument (well, if you exclude the jokes...)

    I think each movement works well. I like the way the last movment hints at the style of the first movement without being to bold or obvious. As with all your works, this was masterfully developed. Best of luck in getting a spring performance.

    Best regards,
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  4. #4

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    Wonderful. Bravo.

    Being "tonal" is much more important to me than being "obviously modernistic".

    You say:

    The difficulty was "remaining true" to my own musical aesthetic while doing so.
    If you are sucha good composer, I don't think you need to be true to nobody's aesthetic than yours!



  5. #5

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    I can only agree with what's written above. I definitely recognize French influences (I've always found Hindemith, a favorite of mine, a bit French, considerably more so than other German composers), and I think it sounds great. I also hear a bit of Anglo-saxon influence, a bit Britten.

    Each movement has its own character, but as a whole, the work sound pretty consistent, and I think that's because the piano and the viola maintain their rhythmical relation throughout, and also their register.

    As to tonality... you strike a fine balance in this piece for my ears. Perhaps it's not ambiguous, but fluid, and it matches the mood, or aesthetics, the piece evokes.

    By the way, you might like the music of Frank Martin. He's not well known, but not obscure either. He struggled with tonality too, and the aesthetics of this sonatine reminded me strongly of his work.

    I think it's a great piece and we should feel a bit honoured to have the premiere here: to my ears at least, it sounds almost like a real performance. Both instruments and the acoustics are convincing, and not only in the first seconds, but until the end without the sound getting tiresome. So, technically it's also a fine job.

    Bravo (and I don't say that lightly!)

  6. #6

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37


    Everything sounds really great to me. I like the creative writing,
    the instruments selected and, above all, the mix. For a Finale
    product, it sounds fantastic.

    Is your Viola manufacturer a secret or would you divulge what
    product it is from?............lol

    Thanks for a great piano/viola concert Michel.

    Jack Cannon--Toshiba laptop, 2.8 GHz CPU, 1.5 GB RAM, GPO4-JABB3-Auth. STEINWAY-Gofriller CELLO-Stradivari VIOLIN-COMB2-WORLD, FINALE 2009/11, RME Digiface, Cardbus, V-Stack---Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 8, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express.--MacBook Pro 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  7. #7

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhap2 View Post

    Is your Viola manufacturer a secret or would you divulge what
    product it is from?............lol
    It's not so difficult to guess. Just check the name of the mp3 file...

  8. #8

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    HAHAHA FLWrd you rapscallion! You cheated.

    Steve: to be perfectly frank I am MUCH relieved to hear you say that you liked the Aria. That was the single movement that caused me the most trouble, as well as the most self-doubt.

    As for polytonality, you have a good ear. It's not so much actual polytonality as it is the use of polychords, however. But yes, as anything of mine, ther will ALWAYS be a generous serving of polychords.

    Bill: thank-you. I know that at times, it can be difficult to give an impartial assessment of a work when it is written in a language we do not favour. I'm glad you recognized the structural elements and appreciated them.

    Fabio: Grazie. Even in my slightly less Tonal works, I always have at heart the "melodic" element.

    FLWrd: Thank-you as well. Yes, I know the music of Martin, he is among my favourite composers, despite my only knowing a few of his pieces. his music is quite interesting, and particularly becaue his musical language is so wide-ranging, from quite avant-garde to very comfortingly tonal.

    And yes, I also think there is something "not-quite-germanic" about Hindemith's music. he remains one of my absolute favourite composers.

    Jack: Thank-you for the compliments. I find that Finale gets a bit of a bum rap when it comes to playback. It is capable, when treated right, of great expressiveness. And yes, I can tell you which library the viola is from: it's called Xsamples Chamber Ensemble.

    I love the sound of the viola in this library. But I'm so used to the Garritan Stradivari Solo Violin and the Gofriller Cello that I am having trouble getting into Xsamples' (quite excellent as well) violin and cello soli.

    It's one of those libraries that has ONLY solo instruments. I don't quite have the knack of using it yet. For example, I find it much easier to get a nice portamento with the Strad and Gopher than with Xsamples.

  9. #9

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    Quote Originally Posted by FLWrd View Post
    By the way, you might like the music of Frank Martin
    +1. And more, if allowed.
    Once I discovered him he went one of my favourite composer. His *Polyptique* is one of the most beautiful expression of Passion in music (I say this from a non-religious-person' standpoint).

    Not to mention *Maria Triptychon* for viola, not leaving this thread too much behind.

    Best regards.
    Arrigo Beyle / Milanese / Lived, wrote, loved -- Stendhal
    Being Italian is a full-time job -- B. Severgnini

  10. #10

    Re: Complete Sonatina for Viola, opus 37

    Well, it seems I might get my spring performance of the sonatina after all!

    A Russian violist has expressed interest in performing it in Montreal.

    Too cool!

    This will mean two of my string chamber works will be getting premieres this spring. (the other is the violin sonata)

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