Started by BachQ, April 07, 2007, 12:21:26 PM
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Quote from: Mirror Image on March 18, 2014, 05:08:38 PMNice, Karl. Beautiful work I finished the third movement earlier.
Quote from: karlhenning on March 04, 2014, 08:51:09 AMSome nearly news . . . Although nothing yet has emerged from Alabama viz. just what everyone was expecting, I have struck up an acquaintance with a clarinet/marimba duo right here in Boston (!), Transient Canvas. They are playing in nearby Somerville, Mass. in a couple of weeks, so I shall go to meet Amy & Matt in person. I've sent the score not only of just what everyone was expecting, but also of Angular Whimsies . . . just in case Matt will consider a piece for vibraphone and bongos in lieu of the marimba. We shall see . . . .
Quote from: Mirror Image on March 18, 2014, 05:08:38 PMNice, Karl. Beautiful work I finished the third movement earlier. I'd like to see this piece in a concert recital.
Quote from: karlhenning on March 02, 2014, 04:10:08 PMA few weeks ago, when a snow storm interfered with choir rehearsal, Charles wrote a piece (bass voice & clarinet) for the two of us to perform at the following service in the choir's stead. The day of the service, he suggested we should write pieces for the two of us in this wise; so I have started a setting of the 130th Psalm . . . .
Quote from: Cato on March 19, 2014, 06:52:34 AMI wrote an analysis of the work on my other computer, and can re-post it here later today: if you have downloaded the score, you might find it of interest.
Quote from: karlhenning on March 19, 2014, 05:27:32 AMThe first, oh I forget, 35 measures? of the third movement predated the Sonata . . . it was a sketch (Tango in Boston) which I started drawing up when I first met Peter Lekx here in Boston. He was quite busy even then, wrapping up a double major at BU (modern viola and Baroque violin, IIRC) . . . so I did not pursue the piece at the time. When Dana first suggested a Viola Sonata for his Master's recital, I immediately knew that I wanted to "redeem" the Tango in Boston incipit for the third movement.
Quote from: Cato on March 20, 2014, 03:17:00 PMHere it is: my analysis of Karl's Viola Sonata:In the first movement, you hear the shadow of Alban Berg in the Viola: a mysterious yearning arises from a kind of struggling non-tonal tonality. Note that even in the first bar, in the 5:4 figure of 16ths, one hears a kind of tonality in the broken D# (= Eb) Bb (= A#) Eb (= D#) chord, and then again in bar 2, note the broken up D major scale in the 5:4 figure, nearly emphasized by the accent mark on the D after the 16th rest. Bar 3 has the little march figure which again has an aroma of traditional tonality (F minor, starting with the C-F figure at the end of bar 2), and tells us that maybe the Viola has been wanting to be in F minor from the start, but cannot decide. The seeming chaos in the piano, with its B/A# and D/C# in the bass, and similarly wide-spaced dissonances in the treble, would apparently not be involved, but listen carefully to the odd E major in the piano in bars 3 and 4, which the Viola picks up in its partially contrary figure at the beginning of bar 4.The chord at the end of bar 4, with its open fifths in the piano and the Viola's minor second G#/A stubbornly refusing to accept the engagement ring from either suitor, will become very important motivically, as it is paralleled in bars 28-31, and in bars 203-205, repeated nearly verbatim in bar 41, and paralleled again in the conclusion. The minor second in the Viola can of course be heard as a variation on the major 7ths in the piano's bass at the beginning. This idea is reinforced in bar 7 in the piano, where the bass ascends from Bb to Bb to G#, while the treble and the Viola hold an A.Lest ye think that the little minor second is just a moment's hesitation, let me send you to bar 14, where for a moment both instruments play G#, but then the piano plays F#2/G# on the last beat, and to the Meno mosso section at bar 45, where things are seemingly in accord, with a unison on B in both instruments, but immediately we get a disagreement (Bb in the piano/A# in the Viola), followed by a C/Db and then in bar 46 we hear that G#/A, resolved into a unison to be sure, but then note the minor seconds in bars 49 and 50 (nicely played in the performance). This is one of the more comically poignant, or poignantly comic parts of the work.The Piu mosso section at bar 59 shows a variation on the 5:4 motif from the opening melody. The motif is now legalized with a time signature of its own (5/16), but does return in the piano for a moment in bar 64. Of interest rhythmically and motivically are bars 66-72: the music struggles upward through major and minor seconds for a while. In bar 69 the 5:4 figure in the piano sets the stage for an erratic ascent from B to C, with a minor ninth crescendo in bar 72.The delicious Slow (but with life) part (bars 83-108) shows variations on the previous motifs (bar 86 develops the 5:4 figure, and the double open fifths in bar 87), and I like how the wide leaps in the piano presage the sudden drop in the Viola in bars 97-98. Octaves abound, but not for long, as the music fragments to a kind of pointillism in bars 109-132. The open-fifths-vs.-minor-second debate is heard in the piano in bar 122, just to make sure you are paying attention, and that 5:4 figure now appears as a 5:6 in the base.And then my favorite part: the completely schizoid Piu mosso ancora! (Bars 133-176) The section continues to play with items already established, e.g. hear the bass part of the piano continue the minor/major 2nd/7th/9th patterns, while the treble plays around with the motifs introduced back in bar 95ff. and 106-107. Listen to how they contrast with the melodic line in the Viola, with trills (136-137), emphatically accented 16ths, the 5:4 and new 6:4 figures, while the piano obediently avoids such rhythmically complexities, allowing only some syncopations. And I must remark upon how well the premiere performance handled this section!In bars 177 the music develops the earlier Piu mosso (bars 59-82) and drives toward a climax where a variation of the opening is proclaimed beginning at bar 201. During this drive, note again the presence of those minor/major 2nd/7th/9th patterns: bars 189 and 194-195 are especially impressive here, the latter two bars show a minor second expanding to a third and then a fourth, leading to the open fifths in the treble in the next two bars.As mentioned earlier, those Beethovenian chords from bar 4 return in bars 203-205. We then hear a brilliant, condensed, and varied recapitulation of the most important parts of the entire movement (e.g. listen to the piano in bars 212-214 and in the bass only to 218 and compare it to bars 95-102, while above one hears a near apotheosis of the 5:4 figure interspersed with continual variations on it: check out e.g. bar 219 where the Viola plays an eighth-note triplet with a duplet, as well as the bass part in the piano in bars 220-221. Bar 221 is particularly fascinating with the way motivic and rhythmic elements coalesce in the piano, before our Beethovenian chords put an end to this serious yet playful and highly expressive movement! Suspension Bridge: Karl has pointed out two of the building blocks of this bridge movement. The first is a scale (see e.g. bar 85 in the piano) spanning two octaves, allowing both dissonance and a pentatonic warmth. The second block is a "periodic rhythmic pattern which needs 73 measures of 3/2 to play out." The listener certainly does not need to recognize either of these, but the composer sets such limits for himself as guideposts toward continual inspiration.Ever since hearing the opening to Mahler's Tenth Symphony (on the violas!), and the long chant-like phrases in the Tenth of Shostakovich, I am a sucker for long, lonely, unaccompanied themes! So you can predict that the unadorned 20-bar Viola theme at the start of Suspension Bridge, the Second Movement of the Viola Sonata, is something which would appeal to me. The theme almost has a hymn-like character, and is in G with only a few, but very delicious, chromatic wanderings (e.g. the Ab-Abb in bar 5, carrying forward the minor-second motif from the previous movement). The piano offers an ascent from a "G" abyss in bar 20, with notes often rising in 6ths (e.g. bars 20-33) until the end of the section, where some leaps of a 7th occur. The 6ths can be heard as inversions of the 3rds in the Viola theme (e.g. from the half-note in bar 32 to 38), providing thematic-harmonic unity in a section where the long, Adagio-Largo line needs stabilizing. The section ends with an open fifth D-A to which A an octave lower and then a deep B octave are added. We then hear our 5:4 friend (in assorted guises) from the First Movement, while the piano revisits (again beneath various masks) the 7th and 9th chords (e.g. bars 50-54). The piano's music recalls bars 83-94 from the First Movement. Of interest are the insistent duplets and triplets in the Viola, which link the music rhythmically to similar insistent figures found throughout the First Movement (bars 42-43, 56, 72, and the final bar). Of course, these figures are also presaging similar things in the last movement, which makes one wonder if the first two movements are not elaborately inventive variations on elements from the Tango in Boston. As befits a middle movement named Suspension Bridge the music connects itself most impressively to both of the outer movements. To return: the piano attempts to raise the bridge with the help of the 5:4 figure going up eccentric scales, but things fall apart by bar 64, where the piano reminds us that the minor-second motif has not disappeared! And speaking of insistent figures, there is a nearly constant F/E 7th in the bass between bars 64 and 78, while our friends (the major and minor seconds in 66-67 and 75-76, the 5:4 figure) frolic back and forth, ending with the return of a variation in Eb minor of the Viola's opening statement.Then in bar 80, starting on G in the bass (the key of the Viola's opening), the piano starts charging upward, while the Viola also rises up a D major-minor scale played in octaves. The section leads to a Maestoso with a series of (mostly) hexachords in the piano, wherein one picks up open and diminished fifths, 7ths, and 9ths, (e.g. bar 95 C/G/B/A#/C#/G#). These point backward (e.g. bars 83-94 in Fair Warning) and forward (e.g. bars 105-113 in the Finale).Bars 101-120 present an enigmatic dialogue with the Viola speaking pizzicatoly and the piano playing 5 8th notes against 4 (cf. the 5:4 motif), with an emphasis on our motivic intervals of 2nds, 5ths, 7ths, and 9ths. And a cadenza for the Viola – starting on G – parallels both the heaven-storming of the piano in bars 80-92 and the preceding dialogue: note how the louder triplets form one voice contrasting with a second voice of soft 16ths. Punctuated by the piano (fortissimo) with a hexachord (Db/Ab/C in the bass, Eb/F/Cb in the treble), the cadenza continues now with large chords on the Viola, harkening back to the piano's Maestoso section: check bar 142-143, where the minor second (C#/D) "resolves" into a F#/C/E 7th chord. The chords also presage a similar section in the Finale (e.g. bars 105-114 in the Tango in Boston), which even occasionally uses the same chordal sequences (cf. the two chords at the beginning of bar 147 with bars 105-106 in the Tango in Boston. A repeated chord (D/B/F#/E) ends the cadenza, and brings us to another dialogue between the two instruments, even more antiphonal than before, with an exotic array of rhythmic figures repeating the same notes, as if a Martian Morse code were being transmitted. In fact, however, one tastes here some of the "tango-ish" aspects of the last movement. From this exotic soundscape we plunge downward on the piano – starting on (a high) G – while the 5:4 motif is heard in the Viola, and is soon echoed in the piano. After the ff climax, the Viola plays a Largo version of the opening Adagio, again in a kind of key of G, with which the piano quietly and sweetly (dolce) disagrees in the final bar with a D#/C# 7th in the bass, which we easily understand, since a 7th has been heard in the bass before (on F/E in bars 64-78). We have gone full circle, but discover that circle is actually a Möbius strip, so that we are no longer back at the beginning but somewhere else...maybe we are in Boston and ready to tango! For the Tango in Boston, the subtitle Dances With Shades is perhaps instructive: one can assume the reference is not to guys in sunglasses, but to ghosts and the pirouettes they might be making. (Of course, maybe the ghosts are wearing sunglasses!) In either case, one hears a rather mysterious and ghostly opening with our melodic and harmonic friends from earlier: the assorted seconds/sevenths/ninths and assorted fourths and fifths. In the very first bar, an Ab in the bass of the piano is answered by a C/F# and then a D/C#, and soon a G in the Viola joins that bass Ab. This opening section reminds one of an earlier sequence in Fair Warning (cf. bars 82-90). And the melodic motif at 24-27 in the piano's treble evokes the spirit of Erwartung. After dancing up a quasi E major scale, the Viola sings on C# and D# while the piano provides a tango beat with a chord of B/C/F leading to A#/D/F#. Of interest is the bass rocking back and forth on the fourth-fifth pattern of A-E-E-A, providing a temporary "E" background and a yearning in the Viola line with that C#-D# theme. At bar 33, the piano begins a bass ground in C-Db-Ab (or A)-F, while the Viola again struggles up that quasi E major scale, finally arriving at the theme from bars 19-22 now played in octaves. Deliciously evocative is the end of the section (bar 47) where the Db octave on the Viola fades away with a chord of Db/G/C in the piano. This continues the minor-second element (Db/C) heard in the first two movements. Also, as part of a final movement's summation of previous material, the Viola's music here might be heard as a variational reminiscence of bars 55-62 from the second movement.And speaking of bass grounds, in the next section (bars 49-69) listen to the "Scott Joplin Channels Schoenberg c. 1915" in the piano's left hand, where our 5:4 figure dances "with intensity" with (or against) the Viola's dance played mainly in thirds. and using 5 8th notes tangoing on top of the piano's 5:4 notes, thereby creating a giddy contrast for the ear. There is also an occasional 7:8 figure with 16ths in the piano: it begins on a low G# and rumbles upward to F (bar 54), then on D to B (bars 58 and 66) before reaching G# again at the end of bar 69. (See Karl's previous comment on the multi-octave scale in the opening comments about Suspension Bridge.) Our destination is not G#, but (of course) the A, a minor ninth higher (bar 70). But the Viola has been busy during all this too! The 5-patterning is also heard in the descending figure in the Viola (beginning at the treble clef bars 66-67) and later in its ascending figures (bars 68-69). And the 7-pattern is heard in a 7-note descending motif (bars 62-63, 65, 67-68).The unison on A (bars 70-71) is quickly disturbed by a Bb and G#, which is right in character! We then return nearly to the beginning of Fair Warning with a startling variation on the Viola theme from that movement (cf. bars 71-80 with Fair Warning's bars 7-18). The piano continues its 5:4 motif interspersed with groups of 7 notes (e.g. the bass in bars 73-74, 77, 79 vs. the treble in bar 80). Suddenly at bar 81we enter an A minor/major area, with a simple pizzicato theme, which strikes my ear as evocative of an ancient Greek melody. Then after the piano intones a mysterious 9th chord (A/F/B), we hear a transposition of some of the opening bars (24-30) with some variations: rather than the rising pizzicato of bars 33-41, we now have a very lugubrious theme (from the last beat of bar 89 to 104): if it is not quite a danse macabre, it is Herrmannesque, where octaves are just as disconcerting as 2nds, 7ths, or 9ths. This leads to a Largamente where the Viola returns to its cadenza chords of Suspension Bridge, but this time the piano adds its voice (cf. bars 137-142 of Suspension Bridge with bars 105-114). The Adagietto (bars 115-132) takes us back to Fair Warning's Meno mosso (bars 45-58) section: if it is not quite a variation, it is certainly a reconfiguration of that earlier section. Two massive hexachords chords conclude the section, leading to a Vivo finale which the piano insists must be in C, while the Viola plays rhythmic elements heard earlier which emphasize a strident B minor (e.g. the D/B in bars 133-135 along with the C#-B/F# figures throughout the finale). A purely personal and no doubt idiosyncratic reaction to the final page: I was reminded of the thunderous finale to Rachmaninov's First Symphony. Perhaps it was the repetition of the motifs in the bass of the piano, but the connection was immediate.If the essay has helped to illuminate some things for a listener, then its purpose has been fulfilled. Ultimately, Karl Henning's Sonata for Viola and Piano Opus 102 sings for itself and will illuminate the listener with its tour through an unknown soulscape.
Quote from: Mirror Image on March 20, 2014, 06:18:29 PMOh, cool. Well, I enjoyed and I can imagine reading program notes written by you that explains the genesis of the work. Perhaps this is a stupid question and/or has been asked to you before, but have you ever been asked to write program notes before?
Quote from: karlhenning on March 21, 2014, 10:24:38 AMWhile I was riding the Green Line train from the MFA to Downtown Crossing earlier this morning, I read this in toto. Some time passed since I had read your analysis originally, Cato, and I wanted to sit and read it through with calm reflection. I read this with pleased astonishment (or it might have been astonished pleasure). So many of your observations and insights on the score enlighten me. Maybe that seems a strange thing for me to say, since I wrote the piece myself. ... I paid attention (generally, quite close attention) to the musical elements while I was at work on the piece, so that there was, we may say, much that I can honestly claim that I intended. But your analysis demonstrates to me more connections, some yet-tighter bindings, and a more extensive bucket of cross-score reference, than I was necessarily conscious of at the time.It is perhaps impossible to offer any praise for your essay higher than, it enables me to hear my own music with a renewed freshness. (And, mind you, I had not found the Viola Sonata growing at all stale in my mind's ear.)Thank you.
Quote from: karlhenning on March 21, 2014, 10:27:53 AMNot at all a stupid question. First off, I wish I could pay Cato to write my program notes! Often (but not always) I am asked for program notes . . . EmmaLee asked me for program notes for Plotting; but then, as I shall be there at the concert, we decided that I would speak for a few minutes about the piece. (They may still be fixing to print the program notes I sent, so I had better make sure to say something new and other, when I speak at the concert . . . .)
Quote from: Mirror Image on March 21, 2014, 07:35:34 PMA a giant WOW to Cato's description of the Viola Sonata. I haven't read through it yet, but it certainly looks to be a thorough analysis. Kudos to Cato for taking the time to write it.
Quote from: Cato on March 22, 2014, 03:45:03 AMHeh-heh! As an ex-composer, I often have the problem of choosing the main items to mention for an analysis: I can quickly form an obsession over every 32nd-note! (Well, almost!)
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