Piano Sonata no. 3 - Malcolm Dedman
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Year of composition:
My third Piano Sonata was completed in 2021 and has the subtitle ‘to the Memory of an Angel’. It is dedicated to my late wife, Dr Anja Morris-Paxton who passed away after fighting with cancer on 10 November 2020.
My third Piano Sonata was completed in 2021 and has the subtitle ‘to the Memory of an Angel’. It is dedicated to my late wife, Dr Anja Morris-Paxton who passed away after fighting with cancer on 10 November 2020. Although this is a very personal work, reflecting on key features of Anja’s life, these features can indeed apply to any person who, like her, lives a full and satisfying life. The work is in four movements with the following titles: Struggle, Overcoming Difficulties, Spiritual Guidance and Fulfilment – Into the Light. The first movement, Struggle, is close to Sonata form, with a slow introduction, a fast first subject and contrasting slow second subject. The development and recapitulation section are fused together, such that the division between the two sections is vague. The movement represents a struggle between these contrasting subjects. The second movement, Overcoming Difficulties, is a kind of scherzando in 6/8 time. The first theme is a four-bar phrase that is treated in different ways. The tempo quickens into a second theme, after which these themes alternate. The third movement, Spiritual Guidance, is slow and mainly chordal. A short motive at the introduction to the first movement is developed over the chords, as well as high, rapid scale-like figures which represent guidance from above. The chords are further developed and the movement ends with further development of the first movement’s introduction. The fourth and final movement, Fulfilment – Into the Light, starts with an accelerating scale-like passage. The main theme is a return to 6/8 time and the link with second movement is not far away, hence it can be seen as a ‘fulfilment’ of that movement. Similarly, the second theme is a development of the first movement’s second theme. The first theme returns, after which a new theme is stated, mainly chordal, and this could be thought of as a fulfilment of the third movement. Just as the movement appears to be a rondo, the first theme does not return; instead only a return to the introductory scale-like passage, leading to a fulfilment of the first movement’s first main theme. This is abruptly cut off and leads to the finale, a very slow, ‘Into the Light’ section, based on the first movement’s introduction. The music is modal, the nine-note mode being one created for this work: Ab, A, B, C, Db, Eb, Fb, G, Ab. There are many transpositions of this mode and, at times, two transpositions are combined. There is also occasional use of the mode’s inversion, a technique I had not used previously. The whole work lasts around 18 minutes.