• Peter Dickinson
  • Violin & Piano Sonata (1961)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • Violinpf
  • 16 min

Programme Note

Peter Dickinson: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1961)

The Sonata for Violin and Piano comes from the period when Peter Dickinson spent three years in New York, first attached to the Juillard School of Music and later working as composer, performer and university lecturer. Its first performance was given by Dinos Constantinides, with the composer, at the piano, at the Carnegie Recital Hall, New York on March 23, 1961. The first British performance was given in February 1973 at Lancaster University by Christopher Rowland and Jan Cap.

During his early American period, in works such as the First String Quartet, the Juillard Dances, the Monologue for strings, and the Dylan Thomas Song Cycle, Dickinson's musical language was loosely serial, with an interest in rhythmic as well as melodic figures often in violent juxtaposition.

After the first British performance of the violin sonata, Gerlad Larner wrote in The Guardian:

"At that time composers could not afford to be sentimental, even declared admirers of Charles Ives. The slow movement - "Greensleeves", but with octave displacements reaching high up the E string - tends to be oblique, like melodic expression everywhere. But this does not make it an impersonal work, for there is something very characteristic of the composer in the witty way these melodies present themselves - in tricky passages of false harmonics, for example, or disjointed puppet-like rhythms. During the first two movements, and for much of the third, moreover, the two instruments are in conflict with each other (more like Bartok than Ives), which is something else to prevent an unequivocal emotional statement. But the violin and piano combine at the end, where the structural threads are satisfyingly drawn together."