By Lewis Spratlan | For Solo Piano | 9′
Title: Three Sonatas
Composer: Lewis Spratlan
Year Composed: 2021
Instrumentation: For Solo Piano
Catalog Number: OM0452
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From the composer:
These works draw from the 555 keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). These sonatas are, rather uniformly, one-movement works that present and develop a single idea. I have preserved this quality in the first two sonatas. The third breaks free a bit in setting up two main ideas that are then invaded by music from the first. It thus rounds out the set of three.
I. Presto. This sonata is a perpetuum mobile – virtually every 16th note is iterated – that is grounded by an imbedded pedal point. In a kind of centrifugal way new pitches spin off from the ground, eventually reaching rather far above and below the spindle pedal point before making their way home. All of this is then repeated, one octave higher.
II. Largo. This sonata presents a two-measure repeated figure in the bass (C-Bb-A) that functions as a ground for a passacaglia or chaconne, always present in some form. In the middle of the sonata the bass is inverted (C-D-Eb). The music above the bass varies widely and includes a veiled, airy figure containing only pitches foreign to the ground; a slow invocation of a familiar tonal progression; a fluent, wide-ranging, and somewhat syncopated melody; dense whole-tone-oriented clusters;the same, decorated; a fast-moving figure full of leaps; a jabbing oom-pah figure; and an extremely quick, virtuosic burst, punctuated by high chords, before ending with a slithering descent that draws things to a close with one final, extended statement of the two-bar ground bass.
III. Gentle. This music breaks from the one-idea mold in setting up two contrasting ideas, the first densely chromatic, the second a slow waltz, determinedly vocal in character. The perpetuum mobile of Sonata I abruptly invades this world, and then alternates with it several times before bringing the sonata to a close with a four-bar statement of the pedal point, but at the tempo of the “gentle” music, thus, in a way, squaring the circle.
Commission/Dedication: Composed for and dedicated to Nadia Shpachenko.
Premiere: Premiered at the Outpost Series in Riverside, CA, on November 3, 2021 by Nadia Shpachenko.
Recording: Sonata I and III is recorded on an all-Spratlan Reference Recordings album, Invasion: Music and Art for Ukraine, performed by Nadia Shpachenko. For all listening options, click HERE.