Sonata-Mazur (2001) for violin and piano

(Aus des Ferne...)
Audio Excerpt 1


Program Notes

     As the title suggests, my Sonata-Mazur for piano and violin brings together two forms whose structural and poetic interrelationship is centrally motivated by the subtext "Aus der Ferne..." (from a distance...) Fundamentally, my Sonata is a musical vehicle that in some fashion irons out and reconciles its oppositional kinks. How, to what extent, and why, depends on the nature, breadth, depth, and psychology of the material. Crucial to the Sonata's dramatic unfolding are not only the ideas and gestures in and of themselves, but their frequent and frequently altered emergence, submergence, and reemergence in the musical fabric as perceived through time and distance.  On one level, these temporal perceptions - time and distance - suggest literal time, i.e. the time the music takes; on another they stress the time (and distance) the music evokes.  While the Sonata unfolds on both these fundamental and interactive levels, the latter emerges as one of the central ingredients to the work's dramatic conception and meaning.

     Formally, the structural elements of the Mazurka and Sonata constantly interact and are juxtaposed in a charged dynamic that ultimately lead to an architectural intersection, perhaps even coalescing, of both forms in the dual rold of a coda/trio.  At the same time, these formal unfoldings make sense of and are given sense by the poetics of the form, i.e. the poetic implications set forth by the different materials (harmonic, rhythmic, textural, etc...) contained within each.  Hence, for example, when musical elements of the Mazurka return at various points and stages in the piece, we not only witness a return of previously heard material, but perceptually engage in a variety of distances, literal 'clock-time' being merely the most obvious but dramatically least revealing.

     Most essentially, the musical 'distance' (i.e. the differences in musical style and fabric) between the Mazurka and its Sonata surroundings evokes 'distant' poetic landscapes.  Along with the Polonaise, the Mazurka figures centrally as one of Poland's most idiomatic dances that, ever since Chopin's nineteenth century stylizations, captures, resounds in, and espouses the poetry of a national identity. Writing a Mazurka draws me into a landscape colored as much by longing, nostalgia, and quiet agitation as by sentiments of repose and reflection.  (If you look closely, this landscape is even visited by a Schubert Laendler-like trio).

Thus, by combining a Sonata and Mazurka into a Sonata-Mazur, I do not merely engage different forms in some architectural fancy, but seek to freshly elaborate upon those issues at the heart of the Sonata style, opposition and resolution/reconciliation, through a spirit that recalls Caspar David Friedrich's painting Wanderer over the Mist.  The wanderer, his back turned towards us, looks out upon a great, natural quintessentially romantic landscape vista.  His wandering has led him to behold a new horizon.  We share his new view but also, by virtue of being behind him, stand in his old horizon.  I invite you, the listener, to be the musical voyeur who not only journeys towards new and distant horizons, but also turns around and looks back at those distant horizons now behind you.