Sonata No. 1 ’Restoration’

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
23 minutes
Modern classical music
Solo instrument (Piano)
Instrumental parts
Not available

The Piano Sonata No. 1 – ‘Restoration’ was originally written in 1973, although the first movement dates from before that and won a first prize in the Brent Music and Dance Festival as a Sonatina. The composer has since revised the Sonata in 2013. It lasts around 23 minutes and is in five movements.

The whole piece is based on a mode consisting of an A Minor scale with a flattened fifth and seventh, although this appears in several transpositions. In addition, a ‘negative’ element is expressed by means of the remaining notes of the twelve tones as well as note clusters.

The five movements have titles that relate to the subtitle of the Sonata – ‘Restoration’ – and these reflect the process of recovery from a major disaster, such as war, famine, ice-age, etc.. The first is called ‘After the Devastation’ and paints a very bleak picture of a scene after a disaster has taken place. A melody tries to get going over a held cluster (so that resonances may be heard) and eventually is able to flow more freely, although rather primitively. The second movement is called ‘Recovery Process’ and builds on the melody, although heavy reminders of the ‘negatives’ that caused the disaster (clusters and notes opposed to the mode) are stated in the central section.

The third movement is slow and is called ‘Lamenting the Outcome’ and dwells on the consequences of the disaster. The same notes of the original mode are used but the tonality is shifted to D within the mode; later the mode is transposed to G. Negative clusters are also evident. The fourth movement is more positive and is called ‘Restoration and Development’. The mode appears in various transpositions and a theme is stated which becomes varied and developed. This movement dwells more on restoring a civilisation after the original disaster.

The final movement, called ‘Sophistication – Devastation!’, firstly states a rhythmic theme that represents a more sophisticated civilisation. However, the central section states all the negatives in a wild fury that suggests the onslaught of another disaster. Civilisation struggles to continue, represented by the original melody struggling to be heard, but once again the devastation takes over, thus completing a cycle.

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