Click the links below to see and hear movements in the sonata.
The composition of this sonata spans the period of my undergraduate studies at Durham University. In the first movement, an overall A minor feel is challenged by the near-atonal way in which the main gesture is developed; and by the intermittently chromatic, pentatonic and whole-tone scalic material which emerges in the piano accompaniment. In the coda [from bar 100] obsessive repetition of chords and single notes threatens to take over, until the tension is resolved onto bare E’s (the note with which the movement began). Part of this movement was written in Siena on a summer holiday with my parents; the vivid presence of the Tuscan cicadas is echoed in the flute’s fluttertonguing. The Passacaglia second movement can also be performed as a standalone piece. Shades of Bartok’s ‘night music’ style are evident in the central section, where after a short flute cadenza the soloist flutters and mutters above limpid piano arpeggios. In the outer sections, a calm flute melody appears above the block chords of the piano’s passacaglia cycle. In contrast to the heat of Italy, this movement was inspired by the image of an icy river connecting different wintry landscapes of cold light snow. A scherzo finale rounds off the sonata, dominated by trills emerging from a theme which rhythmically reconfigures the main gesture from the opening movement. In the central Trio [bars 39-49] the melody from the second movement is recalled to bind everything together. As with the first movement, the coda [from bar 99] develops its own repetitive momentum.