Second Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (2015)

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Program Note: 

In the year 1786, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart shocked his listeners with the mysterious, tension- filled introduction of the String Quartet in C Major, K. 465. Nicknamed the “dissonance quartet,” the opening of the quartet resulted in some scathing commentary. The cause of the controversy was the first four distinct pitches, in ascending order from cello to first violin: C––A-flat––E-flat––A–natural. The unorthodox cross relation between A-flat and A-natural created a stringent sound that was “way out of bounds” for the Classical common-practice. Although the composer quickly moves away from this harmony into more familiar Mozartean sounds, I have chosen to explore it further in my Second Sonata for Trumpet and Piano. The opening trumpet theme begins with the aforementioned notes, C––A-flat––E-flat––A, and then takes the idea of dissonance a step further, introducing the work’s first quartertone, E-3/4 flat. From this point, quartertones permeate the work in both surface and structure. The sonata travels an abstract narrative, the first half of which includes a mysterious slow-paced first movement and a vigorous second movement. E-flat major sonorities lighten the mood to start the lyrical third movement, before the dramatic fourth movement propels the music forward into the distant quartertone “key” of E-3/4 flat. The work features a virtuosic trumpet part that requires great stamina, lyricism, brilliant upper register, and ability to play quartertones. The piano part demands great technical facility, power, and precise staccato.