• Poul Ruders
  • Sonate nr. 2 (1982)
    (Sonata no. 2)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • pf
  • 26 min

Programme Note

Sonata no. 2 was written twelve years after the Dante Sonata as a commissioned work for Yvar Mikhashoff. According to the composer 'it treads in the footsteps of the older sonata in terms of substance and maximum exploitation of the instrument'. The sonata is in four movements: Vivace e ritmico, Tempo di sarabande, Leggiero e elegante (attaca), Monumentale e senza espressione.

The fast movements, the first and third, are based on change-ringing, while the slow ones are freely composed and in a free tonality - stylistically of a piece with the Dante Sonata and, in the last movement, even with Three Letters.

The large opening movement uses the same change-ringing basis as the first movement of the chamber concerto Four Compositions from 1980. Its two introductory sections (1-86) are in fact identical to Theme, Variation 1 and 2 in the older work. But later the piano movement develops independently - although still mostly generated by the ticking numerical table of the change-ringing. A G sharp minor chord in the first inversion (a favourite sound of Ruders’!) is gradually assigned a significant role. The composer's own description of the movement deserves to be quoted in its entirety:

"An athletic, rhythmic melody kicks off the movement in lightning-fast tempo. More layers are added and the work opens like a large-scale symphonic/polyphonic fan: the tempo gradually slows, and the coda is a gigantic bell-like passage executed con tutta forza (with the utmost force).

The second movement, Tempo di sarabande, is related to the similarly sarabande-like slow movement of the Dante Sonata, but is less compact, more polyphonic in the treatment of its tonal and polytonal sounds. The third movement is the scherzo of the sonata and like the first movement is governed by the change-ringing tables. A lightning-fast scherzo, which I will immodestly call intelligent minimalism."

'Through most of the movement the left hand accompanies with shifting ostinati, the right-hand plays change-ringing melodies in alternating 7/8 and 5/8 time.

The last movement consists exclusively of chords. Everything freezes to ice. Huge chords follow one another without any rhythmic variation at all. Towering and unbearably slow as icebergs.

The movement is noted without bar lines. The dynamics vary block-like or terracelike between subito fff tutta forza and subito ppp una corda. The chords are mainly tonal and mixed (for example B flat major and C minor), with or without added dissonance, and there are many repetitions. G sharp minor (and here also G minor) again play a certain role; for example, the movement ends with the chord change G sharp minor - G minor.