COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 71

Sonata for Horn and Piano (1979)

for Horn and Piano

  • Passacaglia (Lento)
  • Allegro
  • Andante sostenuto

Duration: 18 min.

Dedication: to Marc Spetalnik

Recording: Albany TROY163

Premiere: 1979; M. Spetalnik; A. Brewster; Garden City, NY

Performance materials available from the publisher.

The opening movement is a strict passacaglia. I find ground basses seem to lend themselves to intense and tragic expression, at least ever since 1700 (Monteverdi’s Zefiro Torna and Purcell’s Sound the Trumpet are felicitous examples of brighter ground basses from the early baroque.)

One of the paradoxes of the horn is that it is easier to play fast than slow, especially if tongued repeated notes or horn call figures are used. I tried to give the player an opportunity to make a joyful noise in just this spirit in the second movement, with the cooperation of a virtuosic piano part.

The third movement begins with an unaccompanied horn melody, answered by chorale figures in the piano. Once both instruments combine, the spirit is more contrapuntal, with a very full ‘quasi organo’ climax and a reflective, quiet ending. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)