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SONATA FOR BASSOON & PIANO
The Sonata for bassoon and piano was commenced in 2009, and completed in October 2011. It is dedicated to Miriam Butler. Lasting about 13 minutes, it has three movements: Vivo – Larghetto – Allegretto con spirito.
The first movement is free-ranging tonally, continually developing the initial bassoon material — a neo-Baroque motif with prominent use of a minor seventh interval. The time signature is continually changing, predominantly between 2/4 and 3/8, to give a highly-charged rhythmic, and perhaps unsettled, effect.
The central movement is expressive, melancholy and desolate. The rhythm is more regular here — largely a steady 6/8 flow, but harmonically, the highly chromatic style is almost atonal to enhance this forlorn atmosphere. The movement explores the entire range of the bassoon, and the piano accompaniment converses contrapuntally, sharing the numerous motifs with the bassoon. It concludes plaintively with reiterations of the bassoon’s initial four notes.
The finale reverts to a more relaxed, and uplifting, mood. The bassoon’s initial scalic motif also has a mock Baroque flavour. This originates from a solitary piano figure (bar 202) in the first movement. In fact, these outer movements have numerous melodic and harmonic links to consolidate a sense of overall organic shape. Ultimately, the whole movement derives from its very first bar, and constantly develops this material.