Sonatina for Viola and Piano (2018)

In three movements: I. Jest, II. Plaint, III. Jeux. Composed for violist Scott Woolweaver.

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In recent years, I have been making a list of specific musicians for whom I would like to compose new works. Many of these people I have known for a long time, but for various reasons, I have never had the opportunity to write pieces for them. I have known the violist Scott Woolweaver since we were both at Boston University in the 1980s, and have very high regard for him as a performer and as a person. When I approached him about creating a new work, he graciously accepted the project.

The Sonatina began to form in my head this past summer (2018) with the middle movement, which I completed first. The two outer movements draw on materials taken (quite blatantly) from the middle movement, but these motives and themes are treated entirely differently in the outer movements—a common practice in many of my compositions. The desire was to make a work that would show off Scott’s particular gifts as a performer, but also create a work that had strong elements of playfulness and theatricality. While the middle movement is darker in mood and flavor, the opening and closing movements exhibit a much lighter and breezier in feel, with ample doses of humor sprinkled throughout. The interplay between piano and viola is strong—this is a collaborative chamber work that demands equally of both performers.

—GGR, October 2018