JULY 30, 2023 / CHAMBER

Sonata for Cello Alone

Dedicated to Gregory Hamilton and Michael Duggan

I. Opening
II. Serenade
III. Moto Perpetuo
IV. Sarabande
V. Closing


This sonata has been a long long time coming. Some 20 years ago I started playing cello and my first two teachers were Michael Duggan and Greg Hamilton. It is through their encouragement and guidance that I have become the cellist that I am today. There are techniques that all teachers have taught their students, and certain pieces that we have all introduced our students to. The repertoire for solo cello is gigantic compared to other instruments, and these pieces all leave their mark upon the performer. In my case, these pieces not only influence how I play the instrument but they also influence how I write for the instrument. Sonata for Cello Alone is a piece that includes many things that I love to play on the instrument and many things that I think most cellists like to play.

You will notice on the first page that this piece also has the indication ‘after Ng Yu Hng and Egon Wellesz.’ Sometimes when I am composing there are other pieces resonating in my mind while I am writing. While composing this sonata I was also performing Ng Yu Hng’s Sonata for Violoncello and Egon Wellesz’s Sonata. I don’t think a listener will hear much in the way of similarities between my piece and the others, but the influence was great.

Structurally speaking, Sonata for Cello Alone is in five movements. The first movement acts like an overture which exposes all of the musical materials that are used in the following movements. The three movements that make up the middle of the sonata are written in somewhat traditional forms while the two outer movements are through-composed. Because all of the materials are heard in the opening movement the other movements all seem to be recollecting something from the past. The effect is similar to playing an overture to a musical or an opera that introduces the themes that you will hear throughout the piece.