Piano Sonata No. 4

Solo Piano (2007)

I. Energico
II. Risoluto
Cadenza (optional)
III. Andantino

Score Sample

With cadenza, c. 13 minutes
Without cadenza, c. 10 minutes

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My approach as a composer has never been to seek an imposing totalitarian sense of unity. In fact, most of the time I prefer the challenge of writing music so highly varied that the work pushes at the borders of what can be called a single piece. My Fourth Sonata for piano is different than my first three in that I am trying to reduce the contrast between movements a little.

The first movement, Energize, is based on a obstinate 12 beats (7 + 5 eighth notes). It starts off with a thin texture and is increased to big, fat 8-note chords and rich harmonies that come from the world of jazz. Resolute, the second movement, presents a heterorhythmic type of two voice counterpoint – where its contours change from rhythms that never match up to some rhythmic unisons at the moments of greatest intensity or climax. The movement uses an unusual key signature: B-flat, E-flat and D-flat, and using E-flat as main tonal center.

Between the second and third movement I have included a cadenza whose performance is strictly optional. It is a guided improvisation presenting phrases which the performer must be connect, which helps transform the subject of the second movement to the third. The final movement is an andantino which tries to keep the mood light, despite some slight interruptions attempting to steer the narrative toward something more serious.

I chose an epigraph for the Fourth Sonata from the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. In a sense it is a summary of what I wanted to do musically:

Journeying through the world,
To and fro, to and fro
Cultivating a small field.

— Basho