Stephen Hartke

SONATA (2014) for Piano Four-Hands Commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest and the La Jolla Music Society for Summerfest, with the generous support of the CMNW Commissioning Fund Duration: 14 Minutes 1. Intrada:  Un poco inquieto 2. Buck and Wing:  Allegro vivace 3. Pastorale:  Molto semplice One of the great pleasures of my youth was playing piano four-hands with my friends, so it was with equal pleasure that I received the rather unusual, if not anachronistic, request from Chamber Music Northwest to write a piece for the piano duet team of Anna Polonsky and Orion Weiss. When two people have to share a single instrument, there is a sudden shift in the way one handles its sonority -- musical space broadens and the approach to the sound necessarily has to take into account all registers nearly equally.  In the case of my sonata, I suppose that one could say that I have gone a rather "symphonic" route.  The first movement is rather unsettled in its mood, opening with an opposition of a low, brooding theme contrasted by a high, livelier one.  The opposition intensifies, leading to a calmer interlude before the opening conflict is taken up again. As the title "Buck and Wing" openly acknowledges, the second movement finds its roots in the breathless, non-stop energy of old movie musicals, and the piano duet medium naturally lends itself to the image of dancers trading off steps with each other. For the finale, the mood becomes calm again in a four-voice fugue built on quiet, almost bucolic theme.  Low, dark chords occasionally recall some of the brooding of the first movement, but in the end the fugue theme wins out in a rhythmically compressed version perhaps evoking the tintinnabulation of bells.