Commissioned and Premiered by the Tekalli Duo
"When I first met composer and pianist Michael Brown as a teenager in a music festival in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, I became acquainted with his brilliant piano playing as well as his already well-formed compositional style. Impressions of its rhythmic vitality, melodic lyricism, and sophisticated wit, as well as my fascination with his musicianship had stayed with me. A decade later, I approached him with the proposition of a work for violin and piano.
The work begins with grand, rising gestures and open sonorities from the piano and passing through the violin. These expanding musical ideas will permeate the entire sonata. Soon enough, the rising plumes of harmony are interrupted by rhythmically percussive chords from the piano and pizzicato and a new motoric motif in the piano. The movement drives forward with unremitting intensity, mounting the conflict between broad and expressive panoramas and the percussive pounding of chords.
After the fiery rhythmic storm of the first movement, the lyrical second movement seeks quiet emancipation into rumination. The emotional center of the sonata lies here. The lone violin quietly searches within itself deep into a meditative world of dreamy reflections and neuroses. At first lost, the violin seizes upon a notion, and is carried upwards into an expansive magical piano soundscape canvased by a deep bass and bright flashes in the stratosphere. The two instruments carry on into a rhapsodic rumination, intensely curious, tender, hesitant, and eventually quite disturbed. After a passionate final reach, resignation overtakes…and the music wanders seamlessly into…
III. L’istesso Tempo; Lively
Like a playful snap in the face of a hypnotized soul, an angular and accented Bach-like motif sets off this sparkling scherzo. The violin and piano weave in and out of each other’s lines with witty and elegant jests, and the percussive gestures of the first movement return. At the height of the virtuosic interplay, a majestic soundscape bursts forth, recalling the cyclical opening of the sonata, now in the guise of great pillars rising up from the depths of the texture. Tender recollections of the slow movement appear in dialogue with these colossal gestures, the former attempting to pacify the latter. Notwithstanding this conflict, the violin’s jaunty pizzicato and angular piano motif set off the scherzando once more, a second attempt with ever more rhythmic insistence. After a final surging evocation of the cyclical motif in the solo violin, both instruments furiously fly through a whirlwind of brilliant passagework rising up to a thunderous and decisive conclusion." -Suliman Tekalli
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