• Jay Greenberg
  • Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 2 (2004)

  • G. Schirmer/Lost Penny Publications (World)
  • vc, pf
  • 26 min

Programme Note

Composer note:

The cello was the first instrument in which I displayed any particular interest. I began taking lessons at the age of four on a cello taller than myself; through those lessons I learned to read music, through reading taught myself to write, and (as they say) the rest is history. For that reason I always intended my first work involving a violoncello soloist to be a particularly remarkable one, and discarded several unfruitful attempts over the years before finally being satisfied with the Sonata, composed in the fall of 2004.

The Cello Sonata was one of the last works of a spurt of productivity and development that had begun in later 2002 with works such as the Viola Concerto and 9/11 Overture, and which almost ceased altogether during the years of 2005 and 2006 (during which I composed a total of four major works, of which only one represented any major stylistic advancement). It follows the same general formal outline of the earlier Quintet, but with an added movement, the Intermezzo.

The opening movement, Lento, begins with a long cello solo that is essentially a microcosm of the entire movement. The solo is repeated with the order of its elements reversed to close the movement after an extended development. Following upon its heels is the Scherzo, played mostly pizzicato, in which much is made of the opening phrase. The Scherzo leads directly into the "extra" movement, the Intermezzo, which is an island of tranquility between the Scherzo and the arch-form finale, picturesquely dubbed "Allegro violente." The Allegro features jarring chords, off-beat rhythms, and quasi-fugal episodes; towards the end the main theme of the first movement is transformed into a syncopated dance, which in turn culminates in a series of mock-triumphant heroics that ends the work.

— Jay Greenberg