Stephen Hartke

SONATA-VARIATIONS (1984) for Violin and Piano Duration: 27 Minutes I. Andante: Theme, Variations 1-4 II. Introduction, Rondo and Finale: Variations 5-15 As the title Sonata-Variations is intended to suggest, the work springs from a single theme followed by 15 variations grouped into larger architectonic units reminiscent of the classical sonata idea. The theme itself, played in violin double-stops at the very outset, has F as its tonal center and is made up of a chain of alternating ninths and sevenths, producing as a result two diatonic voices moving in dissonant counterpoint. The first variation begins the developmental discourse by working with but a small fragment of the theme, and as the movement progresses more elements are gradually reintegrated until arriving at what is essentially a recapitulation with D as tonal center. A chorale-like piano statement of the theme, heard at the movement's close, brings the tonality back to F. The second movement begins tonally and motivically at a seemingly great remove from the theme, playing principally with a three-note fragment and its inflected forms. The rondo which follows (variations 6 through 14, with a contrasting slow variation embedded within) is itself a set of variations, as the A section is considerably altered with each appearance. The final variation recalls the end of the first movement, concluding with a reworking for the violin of the piano's chorale, transformed to bring the work to a triumphant close in D.
Ronald Copes, violin, and James Bonn, piano New World Records 80461-2