Click the links below to hear samples of each movement, played by Elizabeth Trigg (bassoon) and Francis Pott (piano).
The Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (Op. 36) was written in 2011. Lasting about 13 minutes, it has three movements: Allegro Moderato – 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, melancholic 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 neo-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 first few bars, and constantly develops this material. Dedicated to the bassoonist Miriam Butler, the Sonata was first performed by her and the composer in Bellapais Abbey, Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus in October 2012.