Friday, March 06, 2009

Violin Sonata: Scherzo II - The Opening

Yesterday was a nice quiet day. In addition to recuperating from a day-long bus-trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Wednesday, it was also a chance to vedge-out after having finishing (finally) the last of the movements for the Sonata for Violin & Piano (a.k.a. Violin Sonata or originally “X-Number of Pieces for Violin & Piano” which started as 3 before ending up as 5). Officially, this occurred on Saturday afternoon – read the post about it, here – but most of the time on Sunday and Monday was spent blogging about the premiere of Philip Glass’s new Violin Sonata which was premiered here in Harrisburg Saturday night (and you can read those posts here and here).

Today, I got down to the task of copying out the opening of this second scherzo, first putting it into my “Finale Notebook” software (which I have because it is free and easy, if limited for what I really want to do). Unfortunately, the cats (who are not members of the official Union of Copy Cats) were trying too hard to help which made the process a little more harrowing to deal with, though I’m sure some listeners will be convinced they helped me write it in the first place.

Since 16th-note sextuplets are either impossible or imponderable in this software edition (no fault of its original intent, after all), I translated the opening (and closing) sections, marked Presto scorrevole (which, now that I see it in print, looks rather redundant), from 4/4 at 1/4 note = 90 into 12/8 with 1/8-notes and a whizz-bang metronome marking that should be dotted-1/4 = 180. I’m not sure which looks more like a nightmare...

This is really just a rough draft, having transcribed the original sketches where I use numerical notation (where 0=C, 1=C#, 2=D and so on) into something people can actually read and make some sense of. There are many details still to work out – like dynamics plus pedaling, disbursement of right and left hands, perhaps some register placement in the piano – and I forgot to mark the violin con sordino and the piano, u.c. throughout.

This brief movement – in all about 2'30" – is an odd interlude (a speed-bump, perhaps) between the lyrical mid-point Aria & Chaconne and the Nocturne finale. I’d considered calling it “Nightmare” to balance the “Nocturne.” Unlike the other movements, this one doesn’t stand too well by itself (brevity aside) but could work as a pair with the Nocturne (which could still be played on its own).

&c &c... The movement begins by just jumping right into the middle of things: the ending of the movement seems to be building to a climax when it just suddenly stops. There should be just a slight pause before continuing into the Nocturne, however.

You can see the ending of the movement here, in this earlier post. Like Benjamin Button, I was composing much of it backwards, the ending sketched during the week after New Year’s, just a couple of weeks after I started writing the movement (and beginning it at measure 8). The excerpt posted above is basically the equivalent of the opening 8 measures, the last part to be composed (and again, written in reverse).

The whole movement, as I explained in the earlier post, is really four different sections all blended together in larger or smaller chunks. For instance, there are only 4 sections of this scorrevole stuff amounting to just 19 measures (in the official 4/4, 1/4=90 format) or less than a minute of the entire length. There are five bits of a slow , icy, almost static section (built almost entirely on whole-tone scales) which begins abruptly at the end of this excerpt, four segments of a more rhythmic idea but only two of a shorter, more lyrical passage, none of which ever start at the beginning or end at the end: like the opening and closing of the movement, it’s just a kaleidoscopic series of fragments. They don’t occur in any particular order and you couldn’t play all the “icy” sections by themselves to find out where it begins or ends. Like listening to a radio with bad reception on a windy night, you probably missed those parts as the signal tunes in and out...

Now, to get down to copying the rest of it...

- Dr. Dick

No comments:

Post a Comment