Piano Sonata


solo piano
First Performance
18.5.1978, Studio 105, Radio France, Paris France: George Benjamin

Score 0-571-50578-3 on sale

Programme Notes

This piano sonata, my first published work, was written from October 1977 to February 1978 in Paris during my studies at the Conservatoire with Olivier Messiaen for composition and his wife Yvonne Loriod for piano. At that time I wrote the following programme note: “Written in three continuous movements, this sonata employs the contrasting registers of the piano, its resonance, and its precision and range of attack. One theme is developed throughout the work. The first movement begins with the hesitating formation of the theme, building from one single note (E) into an energetic toccata. A slower tempo intercedes and the melodic line is calmly stated and developed. The music moves towards the bass of the piano and emerges as a mass of violent semiquavers, culminating in an explosion after which the theme disintegrates away into staccato fragments. The second movement (Lento) starts with a long succession of dark chords interspersed with irregular beats on a low pedal note. A brighter, more melodic section follows and prevails before the inevitable return of the opening atmosphere, which ultimately dies away. A long trill leads to the last movement. The music erupts in a stormy, percussive mood, and, despite the occasional lull, advances towards a savage climax. After a brief silence, a final toccata is formed very gradually, and leads (from a deep pp to a sparkling ff) to a triumphant conclusion.”

© George Benjamin

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