Sonata No 5: Landscape

(1980)

by Colin Matthews

Description
orchestra
Duration
30
Genres
Full Orchestra
Instrumentation
3(II+III=picc).2.ca.2.bcl(=cl).cbcl.3 - 4331 - timp - perc(4): 8 tom-t/bongos/t.mil/2 TD/2 BD/4 susp.cym/cyms/hi-hat/2 tgl/1 or 2 gong/2 tam-t/cast/claves/3 tpl.bl/2 slapstick/mcas/c.bell/2 glsp/crot/vib/mar - 2 harp - strings (min 12.12.8.8.6)
First Performance
17.11.83, BBC Invitation Concert: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Mark Elder
Availability

Score 0-571-50658-5 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
Colin Matthews Sonata No.5: Landscape The term ‘sonata’ is one I have used for a number of single-movement works, without any necessary implication of sonata-like form or shape; the subtitle ‘Landscape’ has, however, a more complicated history. My first thoughts for the piece came in 1976 when I was working on a piece for chamber orchestra called ‘Night Music’. At that time the idea was for a large-scale companion piece, which I tentatively entitled ‘Light Music’, and which I first started sketching in the summer of 1977. When publishers, friends, and indeed anybody to whom I mentioned the proposed title, all insisted that to give a work such a start in life was asking for trouble, I eventually abandoned the title: but not before much of the work had been written during 1978-9. The composition was finished in January 1981, and the full score four months later. The concept that had given rise to the association with ‘light’ was of a progression, or a series of progressions, out of darkness into light. This remains one of the dominant features of the music; but the rather long drawn out process of composition brought with it so many ramifications that the title ‘Landscape’ became much more apt. If it’s possible to describe the piece by an analogy, the music might be compared to a journey through a landscape that one sees from many different angles, sometimes in detail, sometime blurred, in daylight and at night. It is not really a direct journey, nor even a single one, since there are three starts, and several false arrivals. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as having something of the irrational logic of a dream. The music begins with a deep rustling of harps, followed by a battery of drums. Then from profound darkness the music slowly winds itself up in a series of ascending curves, gradually accelerating, until with the entry of the keyed percussion it reaches its first point of release. The acceleration continues through a number of much shorter episodes until at the point of maximum velocity, with scurrying trumpets and frenetic percussion, it goes over the top and darkness returns. This marks the beginning of the second ‘journey’. But before much progress has been made, two new perspectives interrupt the gloom – first fluttering woodwind, then a chorale-like passage from brass. The subsequent upward movement, at first halting, becomes more flowing and lyrical, and its ‘release’ comes much sooner – the first real tutti in the work, with keyed percussion again prominent. But it is a false release, because the music changes course violently and accelerates back into darkness. The third sections begins much as the whole piece began; but instead of a gradual progression there is a sudden change of pace; and the music remains very fast until the end. All the material of the previous two sections is recapitulation, but rather as if shaken up in a kaleidoscope, so that it is not always recognisable. After a whirling coda the music literally disappears into the air.

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

'Sonata No 5: Landscape' reviews

‘Conceived as a journey from darkness to light in a sequence of three great waves of sound, the piece emerges as a kind of ultimate athematic phantasmagoria of violent expressionistic gestures and sumptuous orchestral textures.’ The Independent (Bayan Northcott), 12 December 1986 Read more

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