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Piano Sonata (1982)

Piano Sonata was composed between April and June 1982 in response to a commission from the Brisbane based American pianist Eugene Gienger. Initially, the planned performance of the work had to be indefinitely postponed and the piece remained unperformed until 1989.

The most striking feature of the work is in its contrast between the two movements, which are nonetheless played without pause. A number of works since then have carried through this idea of two distinctive movements giving the work its total shape.

The first movement is rhapsodic and freely developmental whilst the second is brief, aggressive and structurally more rigid. Where the first movement seems constantly to be in a state of unresolved change and fluid motion the second is more deliberate and uncompromising. This dichotomy is stressed in other ways: the range of the piano used in the first movment is high and in the second low, the predominant volume is different, and rhythmic articulation is soft then hard.

Preoccupations at the time of composition were with creating intertwining and evolving colors and textures cast within a motivic and intensely virtuousic and quite passionate idiom. The technical ability required to play the piece is itself a reflection of the prodigious skills of the commissioner, Eugene Gienger. The divisions of tonality, atonality and non-tonality seemed irrelevant in the process of this work's composition; instead, piano sonority and brilliance are the compositional rule of thumb.

 

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