Sonata for Piano
My three-movement Sonata for Piano was written on commission from businessman, James Y. Kuhnert. Mr. Kuhnert’s intentions were that the work be a gift and tribute to his stepmother, pianist and teacher, Betty T. Kuhnert of the King College music faculty in Bristol, Tennessee; and in memory of his father and Betty Kuhnert’s husband, prominent Bristol physician, Dr. Thomas H. Kuhnert.
Sonata for Piano, while not programmatic in the usual sense, does make use of “note codes” to generate its musical materials. These “note codes” are the musical equivalents of the initials of the three persons named in this commission. The “codes” are as follows:
B (=Bb) T (=E) K (=G) T (=E) H (=B) K (=G) J (= F♯ =Gb) Y (=Bb) K (=G)
I.Toccata is a movement of intense energy. Though strongly centered on the pitches E – G – B, equally strong alternation of the notes Gb and Bb give this movement its bi-tonal sense. The contrasting lyrical section, heard twice, which alternates with the driving opening section, helps to define the rondo-influenced form.
II.Canto (Reflections) is harmonically centered around three pitches : A – E – B. The descending perfect fifth/fourth chords idea (consisting of pitches E – A – B) alternates with a gentle B-centered melody. Perhaps a subjective “Waltz of the Memory,” the piece does purposely develop reflections of musical materials as they appear in this fantasy-like movement.
III.Danza owes allegiance to both the influence of sonata form and jazz. Like Movement I, it is chromatic in nature, especially in its alternation of perfect fifth pitches, Eb, Bb and E, B. This energetic movement ends on a rich G-centered chromatic chord over which a final statement of the notes, Bb, B sound.
[N.B. The pianist is asked to observe with special care all pedal indications, for the “liquid” effect created by them is an integral part of the piece and of the composer’s overall style of piano writing.]
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Timings: I. ca. 4’ 15”
II. ca. 5’ 20”
Total = ca. 16 minutes