Andrew Violette---Violin Sonata 3/6 (2006)


Robert Uchida, violin available on innova 711 and itunes For scores, or other questions/information contact Andrew Violette aviolette222@gmail.com Andrew Violette's Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, in which an Aria is variously developed, elaborated, deconstructed and finally made whole again, was composed in October 2006. After the multitudinous complexities of Rave (available through iTunes, Amazon.com MP3 Downloads or on Innova CD 674), Mr. Violette desired a respite, to "go back to basics," to "investigate the single line." This he has done, to singular effect, in the solo Violin Sonata. It is no less innovative a work than Rave, but where Rave smashed boundaries with great proclamatory force and drama, the Violin Sonata gently but firmly pushes back at expectations. It is a classically elegant piece, displaying a sophisticated sense for what is beautiful, and evincing an understated and refined persuasiveness. As one listens and listens again to Mr. Violette's compositions, at least by this listener's lights, one becomes more and more aware of the intimate link between variety and unity embodied in his pieces. At first hearing, the welter of detail combined with the unusual length (the Violin Sonata is close to two hours long) can disorient. One is walking in strange, yet, at the same time, strangely familiar woods. One feels one has been along a path before, but, looking around, the scenery is not quite as one remembers it. Major and minor triads, scales and arpeggios, seventh chords, diminished chords, and chromatic scales stand side by side with more unusually patterned scales, arpeggios and chords. Cadences occur, but not where or how one might initially expect. It is as if one has been asked suddenly to do math base 7 in one's head. The numbers, symbols and operations are familiar but they don't all carry the same meaning as what one has grown used to. In addition to the above general characteristics, the Violin Sonata is steeped heavily in the sonic possibilities of the violin. It could have been composed for no other instrument. It luxuriates in the violin's vocal qualities, the sound of its open strings, its figurative capacity, and its uniquely spaced chords. The Violin Sonata's closest spiritual cousins are Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. Like the Bach, Mr. Violette's Sonata eschews pyrotechnics, opting rather for a classical restraint. Special effects such as pizzicato, sul ponticello, col legno, and harmonics are not indicated in the score. While the score does contain phrasings, dynamic marks are also absent. Also, like the Bach, Violette's sonata makes prevailing use of the lower hand positions; good portions of the Violin Sonata are playable within 5th position or below. Yet, withal, the Violin Sonata is one of the most demanding works in the solo violin repertory. Its claim on the concentration of the performer is gargantuan. For nearly two hours, the music barely pauses. The ever-shifting patterns of figuration require constant attention. The stopped chords are particularly challenging to finger and to play in tune, especially in the three "Bells" sections. In much the same way as Bach's solo Sonatas and Partitas, the Violette solo Sonata admits of innumerable interpretations. It is up to the performing violinist to prepare a performing edition, as Robert Uchida has done for this recording. ---from Bruce Posner's original program notes from the innova recording

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