COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 54

Sonata for Oboe and Piano (1972)

for Oboe and Piano

  • Allegro grazioso
  • Passacaglia (Lento e mesto)
  • Allegro

Duration: 12 min.

Dedication: to Bob and Sue Salzman

Recording: Centaur CRC 2451

Premiere: 1973; M. Smith; M. Stern-Wolfe; Staten Island, NY

Performance materials available from the publisher.

With a stylistic heterogeneity characteristic of no one else but typical of Rosner, the three-movement Sonata for Oboe and Piano opens with a simple, warmly bucolic melody in a modally inflected C Major, accompanied by folk-like triadic arpeggios in a gently rocking figuration. It is followed by a thematically related but emotionally contrasting passacaglia—a darkly somber elegy reminiscent of Vaughan Williams at his most austere, which reaches a more powerful climax than one would think possible in a work for oboe and piano. This movement—like the opening movement of his horn sonata and the third movement of the String Quartet No. 4 (all passacaglias)—represents the most distinctive and personal aspect of Rosner’s compositional personality. The concluding movement is a loose but highly developmental sonata rondo that opens with a coolly Hindemithian theme, which is immediately followed by a lightly syncopated motif with a decidedly “pop” flavor. This material is developed quite extensively, until a fugato raises the intensity to a tempestuous climax that culminates in, of all things, a bluesy, proto-minimalist cadenza, after which the sonata drives forward to an exuberant conclusion. (Notes by Walter Simmons)