PIANO SONATA NO. 2 (2013)
I. Sonata Allegro - L'inizio della fine
II. Minuet and Trio - Scherzo: Musica da ballo
III. Andante e Improvvisazione
IV. Sonata Rondo - L'ultimo allarme
This music was written specifically for Junghwa Lee, a pianist who combines brilliant technique and artistic esthetic with a meticulous attention to detail and nuance. She is both a performing artist and an engaged scholar. This 35-minute piece could only have been written, knowing that Ms. Lee would go to any length to not only absorb and understand the music and clearly interpret its web of sonic activity, but then add what only a serious performing artist can add — herself. I knew that she would fine tune my ideas and add to them that spark makes the music come alive.
Some of the technical/interpretive demands of my second piano sonata include:
In composing a large work for my own instrument, I felt a bit of the epic was needed – so I went for it. This music is about death. Or perhaps it is about life, for I am an optimistic fellow. The narrative is quite simple: It begins at that final point, as life winds down and concludes. What follows may be thought of as either “after-death” or a flashback to life. Either is valid. The music drifts through energy, pathos, fun, romance, more energy, pinnacle, and then alarm – signaling the end once again: what we all know, what this will all lead to.
That I have taken on life’s greatest mystery seems humorous to me, if only because every narrative of every kind has, at its nucleus, various attempted explanations of this universal mystery. And, because this is such a universal subject, and so inexplicable, trying to deal with it on a serious level is also very funny, because I can only fail, and I can only appear trivial, sophomoric, or even puerile in the process. I would gladly play the silly fool, but I am not really trying to explain it, I’m just trying to face it. To Live with it. Finally, as all of us must deal with it. And whether we can come to terms with it, before its reality comes knocking at our door or simply wait until the darkness appears can only be humorous: It has to be – the joke of life. Where cruelty meets wonderment.