Sunday, 23 March 2008

Richard Stoker: Piano Sonata No.2 Op.71 (1992)

The Piano Sonata No.2 Op.71 was composed in 1992. This is a masterpiece: I love every bar of it. It was specially written for Eric Parkin and suitably exploits his abilities as a jazz pianist. however, this Sonata is not pure jazz- neither is it any kind of crossover music. It is unusual in being written in five movements -all of which have Italian titles to them. The first is 'Suonare' which means to sound - more often in connection with pealing bells. It is a complex first movement with both first and second subject and appropriate development. The composer has sought to include great contrast and he achieves this well. There is lovely piano writing that is both warm and romantic. Technique-wise there are lots of scales and pseudo glissandi. There is of course a more cerebral side to this music, especially in the development. But somehow I think the composer is wearing his heart on his sleeve here.

The second movement continues the interest - with a 'Cantare I.' Here we have jazz effects -where the right hand has the interest and the left hand is doing a 'cocktail lounge' style accompaniment. According to the composer, the outworking of these melodies is left to the performer. However, Eric Parkin has pointed out that he keeps to the text of 'Cantare I' but uses considerable melodic freedom in the third movement 'Cantare II.;

The 'Scherzare' - Italian of course for Joke - is not a classical scherzo. In fact there is a touch of Debussy about his music. Stoker appears to have discovered and subsequently enjoyed the whole tone scale. There are pauses, chords, scales and silences. Good stuff. And effective piano writing.

The last movement -after the somewhat improvised 'Cantare II' is a brief Toccare - Italian for touch. Once again Stoker shows a preference for cyclic forms. There is reference to much that has gone before.


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