SONATA No. 1 for Violin and Piano (1986)
1st Prize: 1987 Carmichael Competition, Classical Music Division
(Now Playing: II. Fieroso; Joshua Bell, Violin; Deanna Aikman, Piano

I. Adagio
II. Fieroso

The Adagio theme from Sonata No. 1 captivates immediately by its elegant simplicity and its yearning quality. The memorable violin theme calls out from within piano music that dramatically resonates its wide registral harmonies and melodies beautifully in counterpoint with the violin. Far more than a stunning, lyrical aria for violin, the Adagio presents an unexpected cadenza that jumps right off the page in a flourish of virtuosity before returning to the theme, this time in its highest register. The Adagio closes serenely with a sigh motive in the violin, occurring between fragments of prior musical materials with the effect being that of recalling distant memories.

Fieroso is the only movement on the disk cast in what could be called sonata form. The vital music within this traditional overall design makes its presence felt. The power of this movement resides in the polarity between a very energetic, motivic violin theme and a contrasting, tuneful second theme. The active piano part presents cycling patterns which overlap and provide unifying accompaniment, similar in both violin themes. Theme one is used exclusively in this development section, preparing the recapitulation of the second theme to be even more welcomed upon its return. The themes merge into one another near the end just before both instruments unite in the dramatic, rhythmic conclusion.

As Deanna Aikman can no longer play piano due to complications from ALS, this live recording of Sonata No. 1 with Joshua Bell is even more dear. It has been digitally remastered from the analog master by Konrad Strauss. Mr. Bell has graciously donated his performance and has cleared legal rights from Sony and Decca in order to make the release of this recording possible.

Partial proceeds from the sale of this disk will be donated to the ALS Society to help support caregiving for affected families and to ALS research in order to find a cure for this devastating, insidious disease for which there exists no known cause and no known cure.