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  • Hi Nate, sorry you haven't had more comments.

    You have a collage of many beautiful passages here, but too many for a

    coherent  single piece, - a whole lot of potential, to my ear, but not a whole work.

    It may be that to you is has a theme and development and coherency... but I wonder

    if the 'average' listener would grasp or feel this.

    What I heard was a number of potentially wonderful works that need to be separated

    and individually developed .That's my opinion, and I'm a stickin' to it.   lol        RS

  • Roger,

    Thank you for your comment. Fair enough! Being the composer, I am of course familiar with the structure of the piece, and I have deliberated much over the sonata, both in detail and as a whole. Of course, as you say, it may come across differently to someone else, especially if they do not listen to it with the appropriate framework in mind. For one, I'm not sure why you should think that the sonata as a whole should have just the one theme, as you imply, or that it lacks 'development and coherency' when the sections within each movement, and their respective functions, are so clearly delineated. I am also unsure if you are recommending that each movement or the sections within be spun off into their own pieces - either of which I would not agree with, I'm afraid. But thank you for bringing this up - it is something to think about for future compositions.

    NF

  • Hi Nate

    Not exactly my style but I like it.  I disagree with Roger (after one hearing) I think it hangs together very well.  I probably couldn't have written it and I certainly I couldn't have played it.  If I have a criticism - and this comes from my own tastes and preferences, mind - it's the lack of contrasting pace.  Not that it doesn't change tempo or mood because it does, but it's really very busy most of the way through. Then again, maybe if I listened a few mores times I'd love it for this very reason.

  • Thank you both for the kind comments - apologies for not having replied sooner, as I have not had access to my computer until recently.

    Paul - you are certainly right about the business of the texture. I could argue that it is part of the style, yet I do admire the ability to write sparser textures that still manage to grip the attention of the listener. I might try my hand at a simpler style in a future piece.

    Filip - I'm glad that you have taken the time to explain your listening experience of the piece. You are spot on when you noted that the first movement is in the style of a (late) Chopin sonata - indeed, the entire piece was conceived in that style. I shall attend to your remarks for each movement individually:

    1. The opening takes as its starting point the introduction of pieces like the Polonaise-Fantaisie, the first ballade or, indeed, the second piano sonata, in which mysterious and cryptic passages gradually settle down, setting the stage for the beginning of the piece proper. In that sense, it is quite Chopin-esque, although I probably pushed the boundaries a bit further than he would have done. But the essential pun is quite clear - if you compare the opening bars and the retransition, you will see (and hear) the double meaning of the opening harmony ...
      I believe that the repetition should be played. It is no mere accident that Chopin retains this specific variant of sonata-form for his mature works, when he was so iconoclastic with other genres. It weights the sonata much more towards the exposition - already evident considering the clipped development and recap - and seems to me to be a statement against the procedures of Beethoven, who favours expansive second halves. I personally think it a great injustice if one does not repeat the exposition in the second sonata, when the lose of the exposition puts the introduction in such a different and revealing light! But I digress.
    2. The second movement is more a scherzo than a waltz  (I actually wanted a faster tempo, but I think it is already difficult enough as it is); it takes elements from all of the Chopin scherzi but the fourth, but I concede that the formal procedures (lack of direct repetition; reinterpretation of sections, casting them in a different function, etc.).
    3. I agree that the tempo is a little quick, but then again a lot of the hurriedness has to do with the sub-par playback (i.e. an actual pianist would bring out the broader brushstrokes). I'm not quite sure where you mean by 'the end' - is it the very end, or the embellishments in the Con moto? Personally, I don't quite see the connection.
    4. Heh - I guess there is a surface similarity to the finale of Schumann's G minor piano sonata, although it wasn't intentional (the source of inspiration here is unabashedly the tarantella finale of Chopin's third). The fugue subject is by Chopin, by the way (see the unpublished Fugue in A minor).

    I'm not really a composer; I study music, and I do primarily analysis. Though I see the point (and if I might suggest, national training ...) behind your suggestions, I'm not really interested in writing the music of today or the music of tomorrow, pace Stravinsky. I write out of sheer enjoyment, and for me musical interest and sophistication lies in the earlier music rather than the overwrought 'more modern harmonies' of the early modernists. Not that I don't enjoy their music! I just cannot agree at all that compositional progress marches to the yoke of an ever-more-complicated harmonic vocabulary when harmony is but just one aspect of the art ...

    Thanks again for your comment! I hope that wasn't too long ...

    N

  • This is an excellent virtuoso extended work and I enjoyed listening to it.  I'm not qualified to comment on this in the context of Romantic era pianists so I'll just ask, where do you place yourself against the big names of that era?  If you truly have your own style within that movement I suppose your work should be played by some of today's concert pianists, have you had this performed anywhere yet?

    Personally I don't have the ability to successfully work within the confines of a highly developed but much older style such as you have done, and it seems that the "market" would be somewhat limited for this, so I'm curious, do you intend to try different things or continue with this type of music? 

    Thanks for posting!

  • This particular work was written with some rubrics in mind - had this been completely without restriction, I would have taken a more synthesising approach in working with a broader range of influences (in particular, I would have structured the movements in a more experimental manner as Beethoven sometimes does), but as it stands it does diverge from the model (Chopin) in many significant (and, needless to say, original) ways, as I have outlined in my reply above. I have had part of this performed (privately) once, but I have little inclination for further performance, given that I know how it sounds like. But it is written with performability and performance in mind.

    I will answer your last question first: I intend to continue writing 'period' music, albeit in other styles. I do think that there is a large enough group of like-minded composers (i.e. those who expand on a much older style) that there is an audience for such works. One reason that I write 'period' music is my disenchantment with the pervasive thought amongst some of today's composers that a style for today must take its immediate predecessors as its starting point, that a composer must inevitably take his place in some imagined historical narrative (I don't think anyone still clings to the foolish notion that a style could be conceived ex nihilo). Surely such a mindset is well outmoded for more than a quarter of a century! There is a lot to be said about innovation within - or even reinvigoration of - an older musical language; the interaction between us (as postmodern listeners) and distant music is definitely a valid pursuit in itself.

    N

  • Finally got round to this. Listened to the 1st mvmt.

    Wow. This is really good music!  Very Chopin-esque. I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through. The piano writing is very idiomatic and wonderfully executed.

    The only criticism I have -- and I feel bad to criticize this music because it is really good, and far beyond my own capabilities to write -- is that the texture of the music is more-or-less homogenous throughout the movement, making it hard to discern the large-scale structures. I'm sure upon careful listening a few more times it will all become apparent, but at first hearing, it all sounds more-or-less the same throughout. It's utterly beautiful piano music, to be sure, but it seems that your themes are not contrasted enough to produce the forward momentum that underpins the sonata form (at least I think it's a sonata form, judging from the score). The transition between them is rather subtle, and their overall characters are very similar -- a bit too similar IMO, so the ear is tempted to interpret them as a single long theme rather than two contrasting themes.  I would consider introducing more contrasts between them so that they become more apparent to the listener, and thus provide more solid signposts by which the listener can navigate his way through this lengthy (though enjoyable!) movement.

    Thanks so much for sharing, I enjoyed listening to this movement a lot.  Will have to find some other time to listen to the rest, unfortunately.

  • And while I'm still at it, I'd like to weigh in just a little on your thoughts about "period music". While I have been somewhat dabbling with somewhat more modernistic styles recently, primarily in polytonism, I remain at heart a fundamentally tonal (and classical) composer. I thoroughly agree with you about innovation within, or reinvigoration of, an older musical language.  While some on this forum would argue that one must always explore new directions, I am of the opinion that there remains much to be said in "older" harmonies.  IMNSHO the trends in modernism have alienated their audience with ever bolder and more daring challenges to the ear, and today this alienated audience seeks something more comfortable to listen to that hasn't yet been said in existing enshrined classical works.  Works like yours would find great appeal among them, I believe. So keep writing in your chosen style!

  • Quick reply:

    Thank you for listening and providing your thoughts.

    I cannot disagree more with your contention that the structure of the first movement is not transparent enough, especially at the points you have mentioned. My only quibble with the structure is the introduction, which is rather complicated and quite un-stylistic, if I be honest. The idea, of course, is to begin with some semblance of chaos, with the first theme revealed at the end as the dust settles down. But I don't think it succeeds in the pacing of the 'winding down. Yet it is still very clear where the movement proper begins.

    The transition is transparent enough, certainly more so than Chopin's late works. It contrasts well with the two thematic areas in its harmonic instability, and I can point to the exact bar where the transition begins (68). You even have a large pedal on the dominant of the STA's key. In this vein it follows more closely Chopin's 3rd and 'cello sonatas, which, as is usual of his late style, have very fluid and unstable structures; this is in opposition with the theatrically magnified contrast, or even juxtaposition, found in middle works: consider the 1st movement of the 2nd piano sonata, which has the barest of transitions (three chords!), or the 2nd scherzo (none!).

    The two thematic areas have different tempi and contrasting rhythmic profiles - one is a polonaise, and the other is a mazurka. I think the contrast between the two is clear enough. It is possibly the similarity in dynamics and articulation (and perhaps register) that provoked your comments. Obviously, the first two are issues of performance. And of course the playback needs a lot more shaping for the narrative to come through. But I really don't think the structure of the piece is at fault here.



    H. S. Teoh said:

    Finally got round to this. Listened to the 1st mvmt.

    Wow. This is really good music!  Very Chopin-esque. I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through. The piano writing is very idiomatic and wonderfully executed.

    The only criticism I have -- and I feel bad to criticize this music because it is really good, and far beyond my own capabilities to write -- is that the texture of the music is more-or-less homogenous throughout the movement, making it hard to discern the large-scale structures. I'm sure upon careful listening a few more times it will all become apparent, but at first hearing, it all sounds more-or-less the same throughout. It's utterly beautiful piano music, to be sure, but it seems that your themes are not contrasted enough to produce the forward momentum that underpins the sonata form (at least I think it's a sonata form, judging from the score). The transition between them is rather subtle, and their overall characters are very similar -- a bit too similar IMO, so the ear is tempted to interpret them as a single long theme rather than two contrasting themes.  I would consider introducing more contrasts between them so that they become more apparent to the listener, and thus provide more solid signposts by which the listener can navigate his way through this lengthy (though enjoyable!) movement.

    Thanks so much for sharing, I enjoyed listening to this movement a lot.  Will have to find some other time to listen to the rest, unfortunately.

    Piano Sonata
    Hey all. This is is my first post on this site. Still not quite sure how things work yet. This is my most recent complete composition. Music here: h…
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