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Sonata in F Major for Pianoforte Solo

By Joseph Dillon Ford

Detailed Description

Piano Solo - Advanced Intermediate - Digital Download
Composed by Joseph Dillon Ford. 21st Century, Neo-Classical. Sheet Music Single. 25 pages. Published by David Warin Solomons (S0.429155).

Item Number: S0.429155

The Piano Sonata in F Major is a composition in neoclassical style which openly acknowledges its kinship to comparable works in the Viennese tradition of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. The first, second, and last movements of the Sonata in F were composed in 1995, but the "Adagio molto espressivo" was not added until 1998 as plans were being made for publication and it was felt that a contrasting slow movement was needed between the scherzo and finale.

The sole purpose of this sonata is to evoke the musical world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as vividly as possible, in much the same way that good historical novels, plays, or motion pictures attempt to revisit the past with both authenticity and imagination. It is one of a growing number of works, including several previous keyboard sonatas and a piano concerto, that Dillon Ford composed with a view towards fostering a renaissance in music of the kind that renewed the art, architecture, and literature of Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The Movements are:

1. Adagio/Allegro spiritoso

The opening "Allegro spiritoso" is preceded by an extended "Adagio" introduction in three-four time which begins in c minor and modulates to the dominant seventh of F major. This prefatory statement is gravely declamatory in tone, but gradually yields to gentle arpeggiated harmonies that set the stage for the entry of the principal theme in common time. This opening theme is cheerful in character, and after a moment of quiet reflection becomes increasingly animated as it approaches a cadence on the dominant of F which establishes a foothold for the new theme in C major. This second theme, animated by rapid scalar and arpeggiated figuration, is harmonically more variable than the first, and leads swiftly to a closing section in which two voices sing in close counterpoint over an animated C pedal tone. The exposition--but not the slow introduction, is then repeated.

The development section, too, opens contrapuntally, but with a decided turn towards the minor mode and a conspicuous use of dissonant minor seconds. The dotted rhythmic "military" motif from the final cadence of the exposition is emphatically reiterated before the second theme is taken up again in a new harmonic guise and extended with syncopated contrapuntal material. This merges seamlessly with a series of descending scalar triplets in thirds which lead to a cadence on the dominant seventh of F major. The recapitulation is approximately the same length as the exposition and development, preserving a close proportional harmony between these sections. It pursues much the same course as the exposition, although with subtle differences in ornamentation and figuration. The second and third themes recur in F major, thus stabilizing the principal tonal center and allowing for repetition of the entire development and recapitulation.

2. Allegro scherzando

The "Allegro scherzando" is also a sonata-allegro movement, though its development section masquerades as a trio. The exposition opens with a lilting theme in B-flat major which becomes increasingly animated. Over an Alberti bass a hardy second theme soon appears, intermittently interrupted by forte octaves on the lowered second degree of the dominant key of F major. The closing theme, with colorful horn fifths, retains the dominant tonality over a rocking tonic pedal before melodic octaves lead back smoothly to the beginning of the exposition.

3. Adagio molto espressivo/Prestissimo

The "Adagio molto espressivo" begins with a plaintive theme in d minor which descends a full octave over a simple chordal accompaniment. The gloom is only momentarily dispelled by a new pianissimo theme in A-flat major which soon darkens again to c minor, but an abrupt shift to the parallel major brings with it yet another theme over a simple Alberti bass, which is at once urgent and hopeful. The melodic line in the treble becomes increasingly florid as its beats subdivide again and again into fluid tuplets, culminating in a rapid scalar descent into the darkest depths of g minor. After a short modulatory dance-like section in which staccato sixteenth sextuplets in the right hand play spritefully against groups of four sixteenths in the left, the meter shifts suddenly to six-eight, the tempo abruptly accelerates, and all gives way to a frenzied two-part contrapuntal section whose concluding scalar descent leads to a tonic six-four on F major. Thus, this movement has served as a type of bridge into the finale, which is immediately appended.

4. Andante passionato

The "Andante passionato," a hybrid sonata-rondo in two-four time, commences with a tuneful theme at the octave played by both hands. A rapid-fire transition in thirty-second notes ensues which modulates to the surprising new key of D major. At this point, the principal theme of the first movement is reintroduced in a vivaciously fresh guise and extended with new material whose melodies sing above oscillating bass octaves. This leads directly to a new theme which briefly recalls the "military" rhythmic motif of the first movement, but which grows increasingly calm as it prepares harmonically for a varied return of the opening theme in F major. After some surprising modulatory activity, the central "development" section begins in d minor, recalling at once the second theme of the first movement's exposition and the "military" motif, which occurs now in double-dotted rhythm. A brilliant retransition in sixths which comes to rest on a dominant seventh of F major leads back to the last complete statement of the opening theme. This time, instead of returning to the original transitional material, a new transition derived from the ideas that previously followed the second theme now precedes the second theme's final return, which is heralded by a dramatic double trill and scales in contrary motion. The theme is restated at length, but pauses unexpectedly on the dominant. This momentary delay is rhetorically purposeful, for a brilliant codetta instantly ensues which restates the first theme in thirty-second notes then rises like a victory banner towards the final cadence.

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